The Ones Outside Your Door
by Neile Graham
The creatures outside are tricksy. In deep woods overgrowth they're Raven. Bear. Wolf. Frog. Whale. Themselves and all selves. One. On the richly barren moors they're the Good Neighbours. Tiny flighty flinty bright masquerading as rideable horses that toss you undersea or bunching into human-like skins. Raven made the world, brings us salmon, gives us the moon, the stars, but he's hungry, wily, more clever than us. After all, his greedy claws have caught the sun. Hillfolk trade their cranky babes for our sweet sleepers. Tempt away our pretty ones. Make deals we pay for. Seduce our poets underhill for seven silent years then gift them with sore truth. When wind bangs against the boards of our house, grateful for warmth we park by the fire to spin their yarns; they huddle their ears against our walls, hungering to hear themselves named and known. How they grin to hear us tuck them safely within the boxes of our tales. They gulp this music down, sucking their sharp teeth for last sweet-sour strands of what's meant to shape them. How they love these juicy words. How they burst the boxes' walls, polishing teeth ever so bright in the dark, dark world.
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