Caitlin Scarano

When It Wakes Too Early

Me, a last belt of fat across the underbelly of his animal body.

I will never again begin a line with When we wake up. I will be what he stores
through the winter
                                 he starves himself.

His tongue forbidden from milk. The perfect points

of his canine teeth undone. I will not name the man
for you – neither son nor father nor ghost. Just know that he was not divine.

He was creature. In January, a warm spell split
over us like a cracked egg. My mouth turned yellow and the snow

                                                                                 refused us.

In the mountains, a man followed the tracks of a bear, a sow. When he found her,
the way her skin hung off her body reminded him

of the time his daughter put on her mother’s white
& yellow sundress. We will kill this

bear like everything else that wakes too early. We will do the dirty work
for ourselves. You’ll barely survive your sleep this

winter. You’ll wake up hungry, your face full of hollows. You must be

the bear or the hunting
knife I’ll use to pluck her heart (swollen, waxy) from its nest. In this story,

am I the hunter, with his gunny sack & wolfhound? Bullets
singing from his hip pocket. Or am I

the daughter? Learned, lovely.

                 Ankle-deep in her mother’s desperation.


Caitlin Scarano is an incoming poet in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee PhD creative writing program. She is the recent winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Spring 2014 Orlando Prize for Flash Fiction. Her work has recently appeared in Word Riot and Muzzle.