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My pupils sizzle into pinpricks
at the sudden light,
corrugated roof peeling back
like a tin can’s lid.

For longer than you think,
I have lived in this fox-body,
loved darkness with my needle-teeth,
rolled in earth to hold its scent,
screamed in winter at gently popping trees,
stolen savory beating hearts buried
deep in feathered bodies.

Your son holds the lantern high,
and I, caught and cornered,
jaws locked around a chicken neck,
wonder how long it has been
since I was human, whether
justice is still as tricky as knowing
where to bite, and who
left the boy’s young face bruised
as the flesh of a dropped peach.

The gunshot is a hot and sulfurous orange,
but the pain is already fading
as I dive into the cool black pool
of the boy’s rapidly dilating eye.

J. Federle is a wandering lover of ghost stories. She left Kentucky to study poetry in England. Now she lives in Peru with her husband and cow-colored dog, writing her own ghost stories. The Saturday Evening Post, Threepenny Review, and NoSleep Podcast have published her work. Find more of her writing at and @JFederleWrites (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).
Current Issue
15 Jul 2024

I inherited the molting, which my mother will deny; she’ll insist it’s a thing only women do, each heartbreak withering from the body like a petal.
a sand trail ever fungible, called to reconcile the syrupy baubles—resplendent pineapple geodes
Who chose who spoke? Who silenced the sparrow?
Friday: The Book of Witches edited by Jonathan Strahan 
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