Beast, they called you, and so you became. From feet to face you grew out of scale. The slink of you increased. Hunched in your shoulders, tucked your heart tight within. You learned to lighten your footfall through the school’s sweat-stenched halls; learned to keep chin down. Used your ropy hair to cowl your face. Let the look of nothing set your mouth to stone. One eye turned blue, the other brown. Then, the pack of them trapped and burned a stray cat after school. Then, the alpha bit to blood the smart girl’s hand on a dare. The marrow in you bristled over wild. You howled to shred their sneers. The cafeteria air stagnated with rot. Then, the boy who sat next to you—the one who ate deer meat, the one they named fag—turned out dead by his own hand in two days.
Emily Rosko’s poetry collections include: Weather Inventions and Prop Rockery, both from the University of Akron Press, and Raw Goods Inventory from the University of Iowa Press. New poems have appeared recently in The Denver Quarterly, The Mississippi Review, and The Shore. She is Associate Professor at the College of Charleston and Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program. She is the Poetry Editor of Crazyhorse.