The Belly of the Wolf

by Emma Miao

is empty
     of children, ripped cardboard, 
happy endings. A flesh
     rimmed cavern, sinews strung under
the heart like harp strings. Tanks
     rumble under my feet
when the wolf talks, gutter-pulsing
     in skin. I lie on my back & pretend
this hollow is a spaceship, 
     primed for a red sky. The acid 
river foams down my spine. 
     My grandmother lies 
next to me, holds a fistful 
     of crumpled tulips. Her glasses
perched on the stomach bed. 
     She knows this cage by touch; knows 
the lost girls from the woods 
     whose ghosts whisper when I sleep. 

I imagine the wolf in front of the mirror,
     scanning his fur for scratch marks. 
I imagine he’s tired of fighting. 
     Tired of being a storyline, 
clause, augury for a beast
     choking on its blood. 
How many girls sprawled on 
     a story finale, colourpop 
double spread, smiling in their 
     gas chambers. How many girls
in the bellies of machines
     that pretend to love them.