Prayer for Werewolves

Someone will probably love you for who you are.
   If not, you’ll still find friends,
friends who, given time, or given warning,
   will probably gather around you, hold your hands,
and wrap you in soft coats and blankets till the violence
   inside your body ends.

Someone will probably love you for who you are,
   not just for who you labor to be.
Maybe you’re lost in your skin today. Maybe you’re burning
   and wish you could tear it all off. Please don’t. You are variously
a marvel, an athlete, a wilderness, a source of warmth
   and a way to learn from fear.

When you have claws, your claws are yours, your ears
   bristle and are yours; your irises
are citrine, pure, and yours. They let you see
   through smog and pine thickets and into the future, where
you need no chains to feel secure,
   and someone will probably love you for who you are:

then you will know each other’s scents
   and nuzzle or lope together. But for
now, you have friends,
   who are not going anywhere. Please
stay here.

Stephanie Burt, “Prayer for Werewolves” from We Are Mermaids. Copyright © 2022 by
Stephanie Burt. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Graywolf Press,