“Thief or Ninja?” by Joy Merchant

Hungry, I don a navy blue hooded sweater.

Like a feline, I lightly glide

down the hallway, my back to the wall.

My heart beats in my throat

as I approach the empress’ chamber, where treasure awaits.

The cold, round knob clicks,

the maple brown door slowly swings open.

The empress slumbers in her stately bed amidst sanguine darkness,

her riches displayed upon every table,

my quarry gleams on a large oak dresser.

I avoid the copper, take the silver, just enough to go unnoticed.

The empress stirs, I kneel to the floor.

Knees bent, back hunched,

I use my hands for balance, out the door, quiet as a mouse.

I stretch and flatten, reach for the knob, close the door with a click.

I glide down the hall, out the front door.

A great distance must I travel.

Across the vast, desolate field

sparsely populated by patches of dead, yellowed long grass.

I am waylaid by killdeer

who give chase as I run, quick, like a rabbit, to reach the market.

With my stolen coins, I purchase a feast of fish.

For miles, I walk along the street, to avoid another ambush,

until I arrive back home where the empress still sleeps.

I enter through the back, into the kitchen, open the can I have purchased.

I make my dinner, leaving some in the dish.

I go outside, my black and white patched cat strolls up the pavement.

We sit together on the concrete steps, in the shade of the house.

A feast, we make, of my smuggled tuna.

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