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The Animal 


The Animal walks

on the hot sidewalk barefoot


It wears a sundress

with straps that tie into bows


on each shoulder, and it steps

over branches that have fallen


to the road. A stick pierces

through the meat of the Animal’s


foot, and it yells out for someone


else’s mother to help it, sings

a song to mend the broken


skin. The Brother rides by

on his bike and laughs.




The Animal wakes and thinks

it dreamed of the Hello Kitty Store.


It smells food in the kitchen,

but isn’t sure where


the kitchen is. At the foot

of the couch where it slept—


empty beer cans and the Uncle—

still sleeping.




When it first notices

blood on its panties


it is disturbed that

it isn’t red.


Instead a thick 

brown clotted mess falls


out, and The Momma

says to get a pad.


The Animal fears

that everyone can


smell it. It takes

longer and longer


to finish a bath.




A girl from school

asks it to play sex.


They roll around

on her bed. One


is the boy

and one is the girl.




At a party The Uncle pins

it down to play.


He says it looks

too much like


The Momma. This is

the night it hears


Abbey Road

for the first time.






In the middle

of the night, The Animal


hears The Uncle

ask The Momma what


her bra looks like.

Outside in the van,


The Daddy sleeps

off too many beers.


The Animal is stuck

on the couch, head


under the covers,

listening to them


kiss. In its head

it sings the entire


medley from the

second side of the record.





The Animal pulls

the stick from its foot


slowly. A woman

from across the street


brings it her slippers

to wear. It walks


home struggling

to keep them on,


blood seeping

through the sole.




There is a wild

dog following


The Animal home

from school.


The dog smells

the musty blood


between The Animal’s

legs. When it weaves


the dog weaves, so it stops

still and just waits. 

Erin Carlyle, 2020, Driftwood Press
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