There is a wolf in my city who wears padlocks in her ears. Her fur is long and it falls and whorls in gray sputters of dying ink. There is a wolf in my city and I have seen her in the walls of my apartment.
The wolf in my city eats dumpster lettuce and pigeon popcorn. She holds them in her mouth but I have never seen her chew. Her teeth are chipped and black and sometimes when I go to sleep I can feel them in my stomach. She watches me while I shave my face and my chest and paint my nails. I sometimes think that she is jealous.
There is a wolf in my city, a wolf, and she lives in the sidewalk cracks that I do not step on. She lives in the flickers in the streetlights and in the cabs of sleeping cranes. I left my razor out for her one night, in the space between the wall and my refrigerator, but in the morning it had gained only a drop of blood. I checked for gray hairs everywhere I could think of, but I only found one. The lonely red drop was too sad to look at, and I went to work that day with stubble.
There is a wolf in my city with a scratch on her nose and a belly of fall leaves. In the winter her fur is full of roadkill. There are men who whistle at me while their cars are stopped in traffic. I look at the wolf through the cracks in the sidewalk and when I get home I paint my teeth black.
I wrote faggot on my chest once, a secret punishment for the skirt that slept under my bed, for the smooth skin and paper-cut mouths built from the slipping of my fingers.It bled through my shirt, a charcoal rubbing on a gravestone. I can taste it now as I spit out flecks of black nail polish. I rinse my mouth and try hard not to swallow.
“There is a wolf,” I say, and I grip my toothbrush tighter. “There is a wolf there is a wolf there is a wolf.”
Jenny Fried is a trans author living in California. Her work has appeared previously or is forthcoming in Bad Nudes, Jellyfish Review, X-R-A-Y, and The New York Times. Find her on twitter @jenny_fried.