Beneath the Scales

Last night I dreamed that we unzipped our
skin, and to our surprise we found that
underneath everything
we weren't monsters after all.

Lately I've been scratching myself raw,
all tooth and claw and maybe if I took myself apart
I could put myself back together in a way that wasn't so

I stopped being lonely when I met you.

I always knew that you weren't a monster. You were just the one who
taught me how to embrace people without flinching. You reached inside
my skin and unzipped my armored scales, left me vulnerable.

But you weren't a monster, not ever.

Underneath my skin is the girl that loves you.
I want her to disappear. I want her to dissolve
into gold, reemerge as something stronger.
Scales, teeth, and claws.

I didn't know what it meant to be lonely until I met you.

In my dream, we unzipped our skin
let the titanium plating fall to the ground
& looked each other in the eye.

I was supposed to be a monster,
armored skin protecting me from
the hero's sword.
No one was supposed to get close
enough to look beneath the scales.

I didn't know what it meant to be human until I met you.

Last night, we unzipped our skin.
I thought it'd be a relief to be human for a change.
But to my surprise, I found
that I missed the smell of smoke
from the villages I left burning in my wake.

Monstrous Woman

I live a life of quiet lycanthropy.
Silver teeth with bloodstains underneath;
translucent skin across my sides and front.
My voice a piercing echo of my mother's.

I live in a toolshed with un-white rugs.
Locusts in my bathtub, hydrangea on the windowsill.
Wallpaper peeling to show fungus underneath.
In the pale light of morning I lay out crisp new sheets.

I sit and watch the wings circle the drain.
My eyes are glassy. I grind my teeth at night.
My skin is red with cobwebs where I've grown.
I scribble on my walls and it is art.

I haven't slept in weeks. My fingers dance
across the gossamers. I itch to tear apart
my own ribcage with my own fingernails, sharp
with just a little dirt under the edges.

About the Author

Hailey Spencer is a fairy-tale obsessive and aggressive ant hater. She writes a lot about both of these things. She lives in Seattle with her wife, Elizabeth. For more on Hailey and her work, go to