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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