Until Waking

Until Waking
Ruth Jenkins

In this night’s forest
I cut away your long dark hair
seal it under the snow.

In grandmother’s stories
the moon was born
of buried pelts and bones,
called from the soil
by the sky’s silence.

When you were five, your mother
held you under the water,
said baptism which meant
to wake your body to a place
beyond hurt.

Some nights
before your father came home
she sealed your doorframe gaps
with cotton and silver duct tape,
turned the lock until morning.

You learnt to disappear
into colour, or rooms folded
onto tiny scraps of paper,
planets later, guessed
by the earth’s spin.

I lived with grandmother in the woods.
Days the moon swam
the length of our ocean.
a silver sleek animal.
I left seeds for it
and broken blue eggshells.

Until waking
to a sky sharp with moon-bones
they called woman.
And a body not mine,
a name not mine
a family that did not notice the change.

On your twenty-first birthday
we left for the forest
with tinned cans of beans,
layers of wool and felt,
a torn map with a hut at the centre
for passing long winters.

You buried your girl clothes,
phone and papers.
The moon shone between leaf gaps.
You held the scissors out like a knife.

The bones tell the whole story, you said.
If you can only bear to look.
The moon grew tired
of the earth and the sea,
drifted towards the stars,
found no way back.

Other planets have done this.
Now they are bright and strange
and cannot be seen with the eyes.


Ruth Jenkins lives in London and writes speculative poetry and interactive fiction on cities, coding and magic. Ruth’s writing has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, and Verse Kraken.

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