From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

The Werewolf and the Fox Spirit Are Neighbors

Beneath a gibbous moon
the werewolf howls and hunts
for her keys. Again.

*

The werewolf foreswears
any pack that shackles itself
to hierarchy.

How can they argue
beneath a silvered moon
that animals can’t change?

Instead she works too
much too hard in a job
that devours souls.

*

In the queer city
the fox spirit, far from cruel
village men, comes out.

*

When the fox reads
an AITA post,
her past shapeshifts.

The responses reveal
the abuse she lived,
unnamed for so long.

She reads and cries,
devastated and
relieved both.

*

Every third moon,
the werewolf packs,
books an Airbnb.

Her change heals,
but not enough to repair
corporate burnout.

She vows to achieve
better life balance. Begins
to explore baking.

*

With eyes bright,
the fox joins a feminist
birdwatching group.

They speak of starlings,
sociobiology,
practices of care.

The fox confides:
humans thrust sexism on birds
—and on spirits, too.

*

The wolf scents the fox,
arrives at her door bristling
gluten-free brownies.

*

Behind the door,
the fox smells chocolate, wolf—
transformation. Opens.

*

Nibbling, they circle
around, through each other’s tales
to reach . . . friendship.

Their differences,
they discover, are more alike
than seems possible.

*

They race, they play, they
bare their hearts, they listen, they
understand, they love.

They walk each other,
barking laughter whenever
someone queries breed.

They compare changes:
gradual and phased
vs. immediate.

They start a podcast,
Your Shifty Neighbors, to share
laughter and wisdom—

Your ability
to change isn’t evil.
It’s just you, living.

*

And when the moon turns,
the fox keeps the wolf’s keys
by her door, ready.

Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson. A person with tawny straight hair, wearing a black sweater and glasses, in front of a wall on which a painted giraffe bends its neck downwards; the person seems to be hugging the giraffe's nose.

Amy Johnson’s stories and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Diabolical Plots, Fantasy Magazine, and Lightspeed, among others. She’s the editor of Drones & Dreams, a speculative sprint collection published by Digital Asia Hub, and runs workshops using speculative fiction techniques to explore the personal and societal consequences of technologies. She’s currently working on a speculative suspense novel. Find her at amyjohnson.com or on Twitter at @shrapnelofme, where she tweets about language, technology, and other fun things.