Size / / /

Traveling alone on these vacant ledges,
I find inroads and bridges not shown
on the map.  
The tugging waves of the dun Pacific
remind me never to stand still,
never turn my back on the real
or unreal.

A mind's surface is like this frothy heave of saltwater
surging toward shore,
beholden to the pullback of tides,
arrhythmic and capable of anything.

I don't look into other eyes, not here.

At evening, a path appears, curling cliffward,
slanting through bunch grass and ice plant,
winding through stunted trees
and the fragrance of rotting crabflesh.  
There are ghost elk in the shadows.
Underneath the surf
pounds a deeper sound,
a heartbeat that disrupts my own pulse:
the quickening of a slow behemoth
about to rise.  

Near the rocks, I kneel
to find a plover nest
crafted out of pebbles and bones.  
The wind scatters broken eggshells.

Tidepools catch fire at sunset,
churning with flotsam and plastic shards,
starfish hands opening beneath the oily surface.
At the waterline, a twisted braid of kelp
writhes toward me across the sand.
A mermaid's beached corpse reanimated,
closer now. Closer, like nightfall.

In the dark, the dunes creep into the camp,
dragging cypress roots, dead jellyfish
and tangled knots of fishing line. The men
shout drunkenly, their long knives strapped
to their thighs, their faces shifting
in firelight. I hear shuffling footsteps
and voices crying out nonsense.

The ocean's guttural roar
tricks me into sleep, but
predawn silence stirs me awake,
and I slip into a third realm.
The color of time now is uncolor,
made of sliding shadows and hesitation.
I float down the road like a wraith,
like woodsmoke over wet earth.
I stumble through trembling branches
reaching out to caress my shoulders.
Night beasts scurry away,
reappear prowling by my side and
twining around my ankles.   

To be lost, to loosen the net
and slip below, might be a way
to escape. The trail follows
the faultline, traces the chasm,
and down there, too,
I could travail alone,
scavenging flotsam from every
shipwrecked dream.

At sunrise, this place unhands me,
strands me at the foaming edge
and leaves me to consider
how morning light reveals
the shapes of seastacks lurking offshore
and how the subconscious, like the sea,
alive with more creatures
unknown than known,
drowns in its own topography.

Carrie Naughton is a freelance bookkeeper who writes speculative fiction, environmental essays, book reviews, and poetry. Her work can be read at Luna Station Quarterly, WordsDance, Star*Line, and NonBinary Review. Find her at—where she blogs frequently about whatever captures her interest.
Current Issue
11 Jan 2021

The egg must have hatched overnight, though he could see no sign of a hatchling anywhere. Only empty shell bits remained, strewn here and there across the tatami.
By: Ryu Ando
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Kat Kourbeti presents "The karyōbinga sings to Jiro", by Ryu Ando.
a place nicknamed The Village of Fatherless Children
By: Nikki Caffier Smith
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Nikki Caffier Smith's “In Which the Deer, Unwittingly or Not, Moves In.”
Issue 4 Jan 2021
By: Maya Beck
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Stephanie Burt
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Stephanie Burt
Issue 21 Dec 2020
By: Octavia Cade
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Meep Matsushima
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Meep Matsushima
Issue 14 Dec 2020
By: ML Kejera
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Brigid Nemeton
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Brigid Nemeton
7 Dec 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for the Palestinian Special issue! The issue, edited by Rasha Abdulhadi and Basma Ghalayini will be published at the end of March 2021. We are open for submissions from now until January 31, 2021. Don't wait till the end to send your work!
7 Dec 2020
تقديم الطلبات مفتوح من الان و حتى تاريخ 31 يناير 2021. قدم/ قدمي عملك عاجلا و ليس آجلا!
Issue 7 Dec 2020
By: Toby MacNutt
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Anna Cates
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 1 Dec 2020
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Translated by: Ateri Miyawatl
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Translated by: Adam Coon
By: Vraiux Dorós
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
By: Luz Rosales
Translated by: Andrea Chapela
By: Libia Brenda
Translated by: Allana C. Noyes
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Podcast read by: Ateri Miyawatl
Issue 23 Nov 2020
By: Michael Bazzett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Michael Bazzett
Issue 16 Nov 2020
By: Cat Aquino
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Michael Chang
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 9 Nov 2020
By: Miyuki Jane Pinckard
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
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