When she was three, they left;
oak-leaf leather hugged the walls,
and her finger, sore, turned red,
turned black, the green.
The woods brushed against the edges
of the neighborhood surging invisible
against invisible doors, ready to burst.
The vixen came in first.
Latches fell open at the press of fox-nose,
whiskers like glass cutters
opened the window, oak-leaf leather
scabbed over the insides, skin of the wood.
And the vixen, she scented sickness,
found the girlchild feverish.
Like a surgeon, with her teeth,
chewed short to the end
of the straightest path from the heart,
sutured with a patient tongue, fox-spittle.
She took the finger to the edge
the road where oak-leaf acids
dissolved the tarmac, finger in mouth,
pointed the way to where a child slept,
ring finger stump scabbed like oak-leaf leather,
and a cool brow.
Author, poet, and aspiring swamp witch Erik Amundsen (they/he) has found their way into Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, Clarkesworld, and Apex. They live in central Connecticut with their partner, brother, and a handful of cats to which they are known to sing nonsense.