TUESDAY: The Shapeshifter’s Apprentice


Copyright is held by the author.

Turning into a dining chair was my first lesson:
“Appreciate your acreage of bark,” he said, 

“every knot and whorl.”

Bluebottles, Coca Cola and Burger King 

wrappers followed. Nettles made me itch. 

Being a tomcat made my ego leap out of its skin 

and I purred into every puddle, every mirror. 

The hardest must have been a dolphin: extruding 

a rubber stopper snout made my legs kick 

into hooves and I flapped on the patio like a carnival 

freak, the gush of icy water bringing me back. 

Celebrities were done as a treat: Elvis paired 

with Dolly Parton — who after one too many — twitched 

into Dickens, his baritone “Suspicious Minds” 

waking the whole neighbourhood. Rooks, blackbirds 
and owls next. Flight, exhilarating and addictive, 

consumed me for days and I relished coming back home 
as a hawk that could outdo the fastest sparrow. My teacher 
grumbled under his breath at the skill and speed of my mimicry 
until I woke as a crack in a neighbour’s windshield. 

My screams kaleidoscoped. Stuck for years 
in this space, I learnt how hard it is to sound like a man.


Image of Christian Ward

Christian Ward is a U.K.-based writer who has recently appeared in The HemlockSouth Florida Poetry JournalThe DewdropDodging the RainThe Seventh QuarryBluepepperTipton Poetry JournalThe Amazine and Rye Whiskey Review. His first poetry collection, Intermission, is out now on Amazon. He was recently commended in the 2023 Poets & Players competition.

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