Table of Contents



Jenny Irish



Like all monsters, I had a mother, and I moved between the trees as slight as shadow, a slim nothing and nothing more, skirting the scent of greater beasts until I moved beyond the edge of the forest, overstepping the stained line of lightlessness that was the marker no paw should pass for all wild things meant to be unseen, and I crossed this line and then I moved down and down and through the toothed black basalt left by the ancient lava flows and into the treeless fields freckled with boulders fallen through the hole in the pocket of Time as she made her slow and lurching way along, and then I smelt the lesser beasts, their musk, and their blood, and their sheep-grease, and then I moved lower still, slipping then between the flea-bit and filthy bodies of the half-sleeping ewes herded together close with their lambs in a circle as craggy as the moon, and then, yes, and then, yes, I did tear the bonneted head from a blonde child's shoulders, and yes, it was done with such speed that she was as silent as moonshine in the midst of her own killing, and yes, yes, I was soft footed as the dark in the night.




Consider the truth. Every misfortune is of your making. The red sow who turnt and et her nursing piglets, the log as wide around as circled arms that refused to be split to be fed to the fire, the cold night that followed that failure, frost like winter's mold growing on the walls, the yellow leaves dragged on a dirty dress hem through the freshly swept room, the thread that snapped with the pull of every stitch, the eggbound hen standing upright as a man, tailfeathers crusted with mud, the snake as green as Eden twined around the handle of the hoe, tongue touching air in curls and flicks, the wolf who dug under the slab of stone meant to keep sacred the grave and spread the knots of the spine, mistaken, from a distance, for the caps of mushrooms growing from the forest mulch, the well water stirred with silt that never draws clear, the hillside of grass beaten flat and tangled, and did you not look at it and think, how like hair across the pillow,and did you not lower your body, carved from a curve of bone by the very hand of God, to the ground, to lay your cheek against it, and did you not draw, so slowly, your fingers through the blades, how like hair across the pillow, and why, why, why do you do these wicked things—




These two pieces are a part of a larger collection of dramatic monologues from the perspective of figures that are considered monstrous. Initially, I'd wanted to write a whole collection from the perspective of one particular historical beast, who was actually a number of wildly  misidentified animals, but all my research—which I'd imagined being super fun and super rich—kept leading me to angry popes rather than menagerie escapees. Unrelated, I would like to recommend Kevin Lichty's beautiful, gruesome, breath-stealing novella The Circle That Fits to everyone.