Mammalia by Helen Bowie

Before it fell out of vogue with the vermin-people, this had been a sculpture park, or so we heard. Their ideologies and utopias, now abandoned, became interwoven with the ivy and rosebay willowherb. When we arrived here, to the sound of the pipes and the beat of our own drum, we felt a oneness with the vermin-people past, and our own Murinae ancestors who had been free to live off the land.

For seven sunrises and seven sunsets, we danced, we foraged fruits and planted memories, we grew strong and made music with our souls. Our freedom came at no great cost, our greatest fears unfounded in the face of the rhythm of the righteous.

On our eighth sunrise, the vermin-children arrived, and their innocence and optimism brought new light and life to our sculpture park Shangri-La. The vermin-children see life where life sees them, and, unshackled by their culture – their cult – they too found comfort and community.

The piper played all night, and under moonbeams and starlight the day of reckoning crept in. The vermin, riddled with greed, had withheld his fee and offered only exposure for his work. It was then that he returned to these, the Elysian Fields of art forgotten, draped in the comfort of his own swansong in a society that had nothing left to offer.

It was then that he realised that the vermin-children had joined him, that the artist and the children and the wildlife had more in common with each other than the village vermin-people could ever imagine.

Ghosts of the vermin-people visited, but could not see us. Their imaginations impaired by the dreams they had been sold and the refunds they could not claim for the consequences of their actions. Their crumbled expectations, their destitute dreams a dust trail to a brighter future.

And there, in the abandoned sculpture park, to the piper’s tune, we started afresh, magnificence in mammalia, jubilance in juvenalia, carving our own image and rewilding our hearts.

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Helen Bowie

Helen Bowie is a writer, performer and charity worker based in London. Her work has featured in Queerlings, Beir Bua Journal, and Dwelling Lit, among others. Helen has one cat and several bafflingly strong opinions about mayonnaise, early Jedward hits, and other extremely trivial matters.  Twitter: @helensulis

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