Cunning ones, with nine-tails and orbs of power,
Beautiful women luring men to devour.
Honored ones, bringing bountiful harvests,
Whom villagers share their food and drink.
They are loyal companions, playful tricksters,
Messengers and harbingers.
They do not serve a single master.
(They are not human, no matter the smile, the enchanting eyes,
Do not forget that.)
The fox returns another stormy night, banging loudly on front gates.
(No one else awakes to answer)
They wear human clothes; they wear her face.
“What are you here for?” the girl asks, bright-eyed and unafraid.
The fox walks forward, on the tips of its feet, swaying and smiling with too many teeth.
“Are you here to grant me a wish?” Because the girl has heard of stories like this.
“Do you want me to?” Said with childlike glee. “What would you give in exchange to me?”
The girl shakes her head and asks once more, “Tell me what you are here for.”
“To thank you.” They dangle a small cloth pouch.
Winds howl. Rain washes over the ledge.
“I want something else.”
The fox sounds a barking laugh. “You? Make demands of me?” The glint in its eyes says
little boys and girls are what I eat. I wear their skulls and charm their hearts,
until all that’s left is an empty shell
and my own divine immortality.
A shake of a head, begetting rain drops. “A bargain, a simple trade. I teach you and you teach me.”
To capture youth and bottle up light.
To gaze past the heavens, to move earth under my feet,
let me see it all, this universe, its secrets and its mysteries.
“And what will you teach me?”
The girl, Abril, smiles, a little too wide, and full of teeth.
“I will teach you to be human.”
2/5 of The Hunter and the Fox