This badger head grew out of my shoulder overnight. I didn’t even notice it in the shower. I couldn’t put on my turtleneck sweater. I was terrified for exactly two seconds. I liked the grunts and mucus sounds it made. Sounds I felt I should have been making. There was some blood to clean up from where it sprouted. I patted some disinfectant around its neck. It didn’t seem to like the smell. Its eyes screwed up and it snarled. It eats whatever I eat. I cannot sleep on my right side ever again. My friends asked me “Is it male or female?” “Can I pet it?” I went on exactly one talk show. Then I said, “no, I’m not going to be a freak. I am going to be in control of my own destiny.” It isn’t cute. It is quite ugly. I try not to think about it. Sometimes I am angry, I told my therapist. She mentioned tetanus. I try to be more accepting. I get accepted into the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for free, no questions asked. Sure, I can live with this, I think, until I see the fear in its eyes.


Jennifer MacBain-Stephens has poems published in Superstition Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Red Savina Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Burningwood Literary Journal, The Apeiron Review, Dead Flowers: A Poetry Rag, Star 82 Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, Rufous City Review, and Iowa City’s 2013 Poetry in Public Project. She has poems forthcoming in Eunoia Review, The New Poet, Scapegoat Review, and The Squalor Review.