From Blood and Ash and Embers

by Jessica J. Lee

At night the nine-tailed fox
(girl) cleaves to her shape like a held


like a prayer keened through steel trap
teeth. She waits for the fire
to die, her (smooth round pink) ears
perked at the soft crackle of crisp skin
curling gently as the head

She only kills
the ones she wants
       to (eat)

When the bones cool, the nine-tailed (fox) girl plunges
her hand — composed of four slim fingers
and a dexterous thumb (still sticky
with blood) so elegantly designed to
claw and clutch —
through a ribcage as brittle as a paper parasol.
Ash and embers
cling to her four fingers and thumb
as her breath drags in and

She digs

with frenzied
each clumsier than the last. And when her
fourfingersandthumb curl to scoop
a smooth round hard shape
from the charred mound, she bites
back a triumphant yip.

That night the girl
swallows the glow of the harvested gem,
and her nine tails
       fall away
to lie discarded at her feet. She gazes down
at her
unshifting hands
and she marvels
       to find herself


Jessica J. Lee's work has appeared in Fantasy Magazine, PodCastle, and Crossed Genres. Her favorite fruit is the hallabong, and she's all manner of aggrieved that it's fallen out of season. She lives in Seoul, and makes sporadic attempts at blogging.

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