New skin

I grew up knowing what cruelty was

it curled at the corners of day like

a well fed tiger.

Sometimes I did not think on it much

for I was preoccupied by my own

sense of emptiness and self pity or

just the song on the radio at that moment.

Years later I feel it

just beneath the surface like

new skin, flinty and unyielding, unfamiliar

and somehow horrifying

bleeding like a bruise

as yet unseen.

Maybe the brittle disappointment of

my ancestors, their sagas of

grief, shifting quiet loss, building

like ant hills awaiting flesh to

pierce with poison is my

only purpose.

There is shame in realizing

I am guilty of what I abhorred, this

softening violence, a compound fracture in

my psyche, alarming long held belief

I was kind

when there is no nice affability in

what I sometimes feel

only a wish to burn

deeply, leave charred and dead

those who would harm me or try

to fight, thinking me defenseless.

In that, I inherit the family tradition

of haters, long held like tarnished

shield, we have only endured by

cutting down those who would harm us

we are warriors without goodness

we fight sometimes because we like

the taste of spilt blood on our sorrowful lips

it is a necessary thing, I realize, that I am the last.

So when you tell me I am kind and good

do not use those platitudes so keenly

nor trust entirely, my motivation

I am every bit as wild as that feral

hungry, you bring in from the cold

who scratches you deeply, first

time you mistakenly take her purr

for pleasured trust

for I

know no such.