The Scientist and the Monster

When I woke, his hands slid from my ribs,
and my body opened like a door into the light.

Outside, birds flocked to my shoulders
and he named them—bluebird, goldfinch,

red-winged blackbird. I gave them little names
of my own, one for each feathery shape.

They pecked at my flesh, but I let them,
because it didn't hurt to be carried

piece by piece into the sky. The scientist
swatted the birds away and rubbed

my neck. Then the villagers came, caught us
tangled in brambles near the woods. Monster,

they whispered, pointing, and so I was given
a name. The scientist looked at me, saw

his smooth white body defined in relief
against my yellow flesh, my face's flat

and jagged planes. He backed away
into the circle of villagers and I roared,

as I knew they wanted. I lay down
in the old leaves, hoping I might return

to whatever emptiness I had been lifted
out of. Now I am barely stitched together-

I don't mind the unraveling, but I keep talking,
keep telling my story to the sky and the trees,

even as the scientist writes a book
about me, even as he says I cannot speak.

Stephanie Cawley is from a small town at the very bottom of New Jersey, but she recently escaped to Philadelphia. After years working as a bookstore cashier and a waitress at a diner, she is now happy to make a living tutoring high schoolers. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Used Furniture Review and The Allegheny Review. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761