Size / / /

Middle-aged and bifocaled, she waits at the stop sign for them to fly past,

windows open to welcome the hot air—better than watching through haze.

She grips the wheel, each new wrinkle on her hand another impossibility

between them.  Out of time.  Displaced person.  She is not supposed to be there,

her silence like a cancer—and everything vinegar on her tongue.

She is afraid to blink, to miss them, while the ice cream melts in her trunk.

Suddenly they ride with eyes ablaze, unfettered and invincible for fifteen minutes,

charging past cars, ignoring traffic lights.  There is freedom in each small rebellion.

 

The oldest with his curly hair and wild eyebrows seems to recognize her.

His mouth a full grin, his braces shining, he winks with a fleeting confidence that only comes

on two wheels in motion.  Fearless and beautiful in awkward angles,

he is like all the boys from books she adored when she was young; clever boys

with secrets—closet skeletons, noble hearts, and stepmothers' curses.

 

The bikes whir and flap, playing cards clipped to their spokes with clothespins,

and as the youngest passes, she sees the seven of clubs fastened to one wheel,

punctuating his ride with a clack-clack-clack that brings the bike one step closer

to the roar of a motorcycle.  She watches her brothers as they turn the corner

and rise up off the ground, trading wheels for wings, leaving this world behind—

endangered and unstoppable.  On the seat beside her, under needles and starwort,

are six shirts tear-stained, one still not finished, and behind her the siren draws near.



Valya Dudycz Lupescu is the author of The Silence of Trees and founding editor of Conclave: A Journal of Character. Her poetry and prose have been published in Gone Lawn, Jersey Devil Press, Mythic Delirium, Danse Macabre, Fickle Muses, Abyss & Apex, Pedestal Magazine, Doorknobs & Bodypaint, and other places. Since earning her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Valya has worked as a college professor, obituary writer, content manager, goth cocktail waitress, and co-producer of an independent feature film. Her first comic book, Sticks & Bones, created with artist Madeline C. Matz, was successfully crowdfunded via kickstarter. They are now working on the next three issues to be published by First Comics. Her website is www.vdlupescu.com.
Current Issue
25 Sep 2023

People who live in glass houses are surrounded by dirt birds
After a century, the first colony / of bluebirds flew out of my mouth.
Over and over the virulent water / beat my flame down to ash
In this episode of  Critical Friends , the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, Aisha and Dan talk to critic and poet Catherine Rockwood about how reviewing and criticism feed into creative practice. Also, pirates.
Writing authentic stories may require you to make the same sacrifice. This is not a question of whether or not you are ready to write indigenous literature, but whether you are willing to do so. Whatever your decision, continue to be kind to indigenous writers. Do not ask us why we are not famous or complain about why we are not getting support for our work. There can only be one answer to that: people are too busy to care. At least you care, and that should be enough to keep my culture alive.
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