‘Oh.’ Unclasping the locket, your face drops:
beret and regulation cut; widened,
wised up pupils. What if he keeps close guard
of his feelings? Weren’t you wrong to peel
them from his palm, as he slept on?
This squaddie in the frame – is he
asleep for good, or napping in snatches
between those threats that put us all
on tenterhooks: detonations,
diffuse gunfire? You’re right to pity
how he carries round on a neck chain
the fighter he’ll never become –
this man you picked up last night like
a locket, to open and read at a glance.
In and of Blood
Wolves surrounded me in the form of floating eyes. With pressing glares, they glinted in the dark, sporadically blinking like dying Christmas lights. My throat tightened as I took a step forward. Pine needles crunched under my boot and the sound gave life to a chorus of growls and clicking jaws snapping shut. I held my hands out in surrender and said, “I just need to talk to your leader.” The words quaked out of my mouth in a hazy breath, but the growls only grew in volume until a lone howl hung above the feral noise.
As a sharp silence settled among the wolves, a new pair of eyes loomed forward. Their owner’s nails ticked against the surface of her stone throne. The other eyes moved to make room as their alpha emerged from the blackness. She leapt down from her throne, and sauntered into a pale shaft of moonlight that illuminated a gloss of charcoal fur. Her copper eyes sized me up from my tawny skin and bundled hair to my hiking gear and backpack. I cringed away from the judgement clouding her eyes and said, “Chloë, we need to talk.”
The wolf shook her head before nodding to the rest of the canines. I frowned. “Don’t make me do that.” Chloë’s glare persisted, and I spoke again, voice more resolute than before. “I won’t.”