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'The team knows you are here' says the voice

on repeat with looped birdsong.

I imagine a waiting room in a tree and

I am a woman-sized chick,

my beak wide with need.


Now we inhabit rectangles, curate backdrops.

I veil a bookcase with a bedspread,

ask if it's ok to drink tea,

try to remember she's whole,

soft edged,

not on TV.


There's a nail in the wall behind her.

I wonder about the picture that has been taken down

and if her dog (who once, for a minute, I had the chance to

smile towards and speak to in a high fond tone)

curls nearby.


A wood-pigeon calls down the megaphone of her chimney

like a child in a tunnel delighted by their decibels.

We laugh from our bellies,

a sweet respite, a firefly

bright across

the binary between.



cw: suicidality

My new friend's rat ascends me,

nudges his nose into my ear,

nibbles at the lobe.


She says he's never done this,

plays upset he chose me first.

I hold my breath for his achingly delicate feet

and imagine I'm a mountain.


My new friend has a white sofa.

She has baked a cake.


In the hospital three days

after I threw myself away

I found pairs of red nicks on one hand

made, I had to guess, from a rat

taste-teething for poisoned fruit.


My new friend doesn't know this

or how a part of me has decayed -


the part, perhaps, her rat sniffs out,

unsure if what's for the taking

is living.

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EMMA GRAY is a neurodivergent writer and artist from Brighton, UK. Her work has been shortlisted for the Creative Future Writers' Award in 2021, longlisted for the Mslexia Poetry Competition 2022 and published by Bivouac, Wildfire Words and CityLit's Between the Lines 2022.

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