street rats

in motley, these tattered
gypsy children,
stolen and fae,
who tear their own
holes, in fabric and flesh,
foxing the knap
and whiskered weft
with knives or needles;
fox-faced puckish terrors,
vermin vermillion familiars.
they seem more fragile
for what they give freely
but cannot keep:
pie-crust promises,
poisoned hearts.
the scratching stirs memory
of music and youth departed.
but from that cave,
no one emerges.
there is only one path,
the same end.
the piper disappears,
whither, none knows,
yet all wither, and scavengers
consume the bones of dead years.
laws of magic are immutable,
and payment will not be flouted.
if they knew the consequences,
the spell would be broken,
but there is no knowledge without death,
and no one meek enough
to inherit wisdom
without loss.

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