Teeth and Claws

‘I am all teeth and claws today.’

My mother says it to herself as she hobbles

to the kettle, the medication,

the chalky pills she’ll chuck down inside,

hoping that they calm the fire in her bones

and the brutality of her tongue.

She’s mean, but she doesn’t mean to be.

Tiredness makes her cruel in the evenings;

‘Should you be eating that?’

Her snide voice enters my mouth alongside

the piece of chocolate, piece of cheese, piece of

comfort I’m consuming and turns it to bile.

I gulp.

I say nothing.

In the morning she will be all contrition –

‘You look lovely today, I like you’re hair -‘

But teeth and claws are drawn tonight

and she’s scraping away at my skin, picking off the fat,

licking her lips on delicious bites.

I am meaty, ripe for first blood.

I will lie awake tonight,

my fingers smoothing the bulge of my stomach

my mind turning in on itself as I ravage,

drawing out my own bloodied teeth

sharpening my old trusted claws to tear myself apart.

I will forgive her in the morning.

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