It is so dark inside the wolf

were the first words I heard after the huntsman’s shears
flayed my belly as if he were extracting an early child.
She climbed from me, slick with digestive fluid,
followed by the grandmother who tumbled out,
a soggy bag of bones, and curled at the foot of the bed.

Something red covered my head and I smelled the huntsman’s sweat
and cake and wine before the darkness swallowed me.

It must have been a dream
I thought, groggy and cotton-mouthed.
The skin on my lumped belly was pulled taut and sewn
with thick, jagged stitches from breastplate to pelvis,
threatening to burst. My tongue was like sand on the wound
so I dragged my sack-of-stones body from the bed
and out the front door. My claws clicked and slipped on the blood
that seeped from my stomach, smearing a snail’s trail along the floor.

The old woman stood on the porch, hands clasped
over her cane, eyes fixed to the ground in front of her.
My thirst pulled me to the stream and I, with my belly
full of rocks, leaned out to lap up the coolness in the twilight.
A slight nudge sent me sliding down the bank
and I didn’t even try to swim when I hit the bottom.

I saw her through the water.
Such big eyes she had, that glared down through
to the darkness inside me. In her hand was a needle,
still glistening and dripping with a sap-like liquid
that matched the colour of her cap.

~ Tyler B. Perry

Tyler B. Perry works as a junior high teacher, and his first book of poetry,
Lessons in Falling (2010, B House Publications), explores the world of school, drawing its inspiration from the events, personalities and physical surroundings he encounters in his daily work. Tyler is an active presence in Calgary’s poetry community, and along with a small group of poets, organizes and hosts the Ink Spot Collective monthly poetry slam. He was captain of the 2010 Calgary poetry slam team and has performed his work at venues across the city. Tyler is an MFA candidate at UBC and continues residing in Calgary with his wife and two young children. You can visit him on the web and read some of his poems at

Tyler will be reading at the Calgary “Balanced Brunch” event on April 22. We hope to see you at the John Murrell Theatre.

Read more of Tyler B. Perry’s poetry:
I don’t teach subjects; I teach students.
Degrees of Doneness
Everything I know

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