'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,
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)
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
the binary between.
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
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.