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Letter to Justin: I was a Preteen Werewolf

In fourth grade, I told
my friend Jamie that I was a werewolf.
I told him I arose on full-moon
nights & stalked our small towns,
eating stray dogs & cats,
the occasional deer who’d wandered
too far from the underbrush.
I said I awoke some mornings
in my backyard, wet with dew,
the blood of last night’s kill
still staining my t-shirt & shorts.
Then, I’d pull back my lips
& show my canine teeth,
which angled out in pointed shards.
I didn’t tell him the insides
of my lips were stippled
with scar tissue. I never
said when I bit myself eating,
blood poured from my mouth,
& the wound pulsed for hours,
a hole I’d probe with a bored tongue
during class or after school,
when my brother & I came home
to an empty house, my father
still at the paper mill, my mother
working a split shift. We’d watch
Andy Griffith on a black & white TV
& imagine our dad like Andy,
a man too good to carry a gun.
Our father drank himself into a coma
each night. Red & white cans of Budweiser
overflowed the kitchen garbage,
& he’d sometimes strike my mother
in rage, this gentle artist I’d seen
write songs & draw cartoons,
this man who became a monster.
No dentist ever saw my teeth.
Years later, in my twenties, I visited
one who told me I should have
been fitted for braces as a child.
I didn’t tell him that my parents
were too poor to ever take me.
I didn’t tell him that I’d once
been a werewolf. I just said
“Yeah, you’re probably right,”
& ran my tongue over my scars
& tasted all the years built up there.

Letter to Newberry: Considering the Moon

          Someone has spilled the moon
          all over the trees;
               ---Linda Pastan

When I see the moon shift
on a daily basis on my walk to school,
days seemingly fade ever on into the past—
I try to think of how many different
variations each of us have, how many
gifts we might possess worthy of
offer, worthy of what and who we are
in relation to the world around us.
The moon walks through eight phases, as its
pale circumference follows the earth
like a heartbroken child. Often times
I wonder where it would go if it wasn’t
tethered to us for all eternity, or why it
sticks around if it has given all it can or
all it wants. I want to know what is
so special about us that we are blessed
with such inordinate beauty. We can say
we are simply favored by God, or
blessed with tremendous, cosmic luck,
but I do not want a simple answer
tonight. I want to see the mystery unfold,
complex as it might be. I want to see a
re-creation of the Creation. I want to see
firsthand what the moon was given
to give us— what the moon carried inside
like an egg. Sometimes I want to break
open the moon and cause its treasure to
spill all over the fertile earth, just to watch
what might grow, eventually leaping
into outer space to fill the void.

Justin Evans lives in rural Nevada with his wife and three sons, where he teaches at the local high school. Jeff Newberry lives in Tifton, Georgia, with his wife and children, where he teaches at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.