by Ruth Jenkins
When I was three, the city sent metal rain. They did not know what happens to houses when the spirits leave them open and aching. I watched a young fox make a building its own. Brick swole to fur, upstair lights burnt to animal eyes. The house lifted its new body to run. When I was thirteen, I followed mud prints to the buildings at low river, sniffed out the empty space, curled my body into it. I became: paws to open the earth, stomach to carry me down. I heard city streets on the other side of skin and made the cut. Now I am fifteen, and the city sent their guards as we slept. They grabbed our bodies and clothes, threw them into the street. They sealed the doors with metal sheets, Xs cut in for breathing. They did not remember what happens to houses when spirits leave them open and aching. We grip the drainpipe all the dark way to the roof unpick the sky light window and curl our bodies to the empty space beneath. Our torches burn to animal eyes. We will own the streets tonight and the blood.
Ruth Jenkins writes speculative poetry and short fiction on cities, magic and deserted buildings. She works in a library in North London with a cat that sneaks up stair wells and mews for stories and milk. Her favourite fruits are raspberries, carried back from the market on rainy afternoons.
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