Transformation

Elizabeth Yalkut

There's a man who sleeps
outside the subway, who's claimed
the gap between the stairs and the newsstand.

"Hey, girl," he shouts at me,
and instead of dropping my gaze,
instead of hurrying across the street,

I step closer.
"Fuck you, I'm a dragon,"
I tell him, my breath boiling white in front of me.

My bones crack and splinter and my skin sloughs away,
my tongue becomes serrated;
but that's not the real transformation.

Anyone can have scales keeping them safe
and fire inside their heart,
acid churning in their guts.

But me, I believe I am a dragon,
and when he recoils,
it's not the smoke I exhale that he's choking on.