Inside You Are Two Wolves And They Are Both Nonbinary

Inside me there are two wolves
By which I mean—
Mum and Dad, I’m sorry I haven’t been able to talk to you more
about how inside me there are two wolves
and both of them have not managed to embrace womanhood. I’m sorry
that every full moon I tried turning into something resembling
a woman, and that instead I just got more wolf-like.
You can go to bed believing you are fully a girl
and still in the morning find your sheets strewn with dirt and lamb bones licked clean.
I’m sorry I haven’t made this clear—
It’s just that I love you!
and inside of me is expanding, like a beautiful time lapse of an opening orchid,
and I don’t want you to worry.  

I’m an only daughter first and foremost—
and then a cloud of lavender vapour,
then hundreds of chance encounters,
and then a person again,
this time on my own,
this time with feeling.
The two wolves inside me are called Truth and Promise—
They howl and it sounds like deliverance.

author photo of Loretta Riach

Loretta Riach is a Pākehā writer and artist from Aotearoa, currently based in Naarm Melbourne. You can find their writing in journals like Sweet Mammalian, Starling, Minarets, Takahē Magazine, and Poetry Aotearoa Yearbook, as well as Overcom Mag where this poem was first published. They love bodies of water, geological phenomena, and writing everything down.

Loretta comments: 'This is unintentionally the most vulnerable I have felt with a published poem. It has a meme for a title, and it was supposed to be light and teasing—instead it got away from me, and turned into something I still haven't shown my parents. Thanks for reading, strangers.'

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Loretta Riach's website