by J. C. Runolfson



Hanami.  The girls at the office drag me to the park after lunch, ignoring my protests.  Everything's blooming, not just sakura.  My throat and nose close up amid the flowers.  I left my inhaler in my desk.  I sneeze, and petals and women scatter.


spring buds

season of growth and



I seek refuge in a shrine with no blossoms, moss growing on rocks.  Past the torii gate, red maple shelters an old statue, a rusted gate in a small hill.  A fox watches me out of blank stone eyes.  I tilt my head and count its tails.


who lurks there

russet fur and white teeth



A flash of green under the shade of the trees, bright and then gone.

Fireflies, this early in the year?  Another flash, near the head.

Foxfire.  The gate moans, shifts without wind.


restless spirit

hunting a way out

come closer


Voices call my name from the park.  Lunch break is over.  Time to go back to work, back to overtime and subways and sake with strangers.  My rent is going up.  My mother wants me to get married.  Time to leave the mystery.  Or....


ancient lock

crumbling under my hand

come out



About the Author:

J. C. Runolfson's work has appeared in Lone Star Stories previously, as well as Goblin Fruit, The Sword Review, Sybil's Garage, and Reflection's Edge, among others.  She is an assistant editor at Flash Me Magazine, and likes to babble about books, genre tropes, and faery tales on her online journal.


Poem 2008 J. C. Runolfson. Photo by Malene Thyssen, 2005.