“Torn” by Kelly McQuain, originally published in Kin, September 2012.
By Kelly McQuain
At first, it’s only a hoof where my left foot
used to be, and the only inconvenience
is a shoe that won’t fit. But then, overnight,
a nagging migraine builds to a hard nub
that sprouts five inches above my left eye—
worse than teenage acne: a horn
my hairline can’t disguise. Left eyebrow, too,
is acting up—arching, turning black—
to match half a goatee below—I shave it off;
it grows back. And the hair on my left leg
feels coarser, and now my leg is bending back
—goat’s hock curving to fetlock. I try to straighten it.
It kicks back. Tail’s the worst; it’s forked
—a bit furry, a bit skinned—darting now
through a hole in my boxers. I decide
to call in sick. And it’s true, I’m in agony:
left shoulder blade wrenching, a loud snap.
On my back, a black umbrella unfolds
into a leather wing. In the mirror, half a devil
and I wonder whether hope might spring
from my other side: First sign, a feather.