From the sharpest parts of the night they appear,
wearing borrowed light.
Those that can cross water do,
those that cannot pace the bank,
howl their helplessness into the space between,
and the forests darken and fold up
oyster-like, doubling down on their treasures.
Once in hushed woods during the thick hours
I was bitten by a starving soul
who seemed sorry about catching me:
would there be a woodcutter? But
I didn’t grudge him the moment of relief,
or the passing taste of my juice on his tongue;
I took the wound and pitied him, and we parted
on an understanding.
I look for him sometimes, expecting nothing:
he was a half-dead thing even then
and will have settled into earth long ago,
yet sometimes if the darkness shifts
in a certain way under a hunger moon
and in just the right wildness, I feel the soup
of my blood stir, the wound sings, and my left arm
braces for a bite.
Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic based in Glasgow, UK. Her poetry is recently published or forthcoming in Ink Sweat & Tears, perhappened, Dust Poetry Magazine, Capsule Stories, Twist in Time, The Winnow, Marble, IceFloe Press, and Dodging the Rain. Her debut collection will be published by Indigo Dreams Press in 2021. She tweets about poetry and other things @maryfordneal.
photo by Thomas Bonometti (via unsplash)