Size / / /

She shone from inside,

her skin like sunlit clouds,

her eyelashes pins of light.

He followed her, his beacon,

to escape the grey lands,

to emerge in the world each morning.

Simple man who wore

the ghosts of his beloved Vitebsk

like a comforting shawl;

because he knew they weren't ghosts at all.

Reduced to ruins by Nazi hands,

but he found it again

the first time he followed her

beyond the grey lands.

She first revealed herself to him

long years before

he left the black and white of Russia

for the kaleidoscope of Paris:

in days when his world held nothing more

than carts and cows and long school hours,

and dreams of magic-colored laughter.

At first he thought her nothing more

than his beautiful Bella

perceived in spirit by his yearning soul:

lounging nude atop

the roses on the mantle;

staring up at him from puddles,

a distaff reflection;

beheld in nighttime visions,

borne away on horses

by shadowy barbarians,

or towering anxiously over

infinities of forest where fey children played.

But he knew her to be something more

when every sighting became the same:

a shining figure cut from a summer sky,

kneeling alone, head bowed,

solemn as his mother praying at the synagogue,

a steady lamp in a vast plain of shifting grey.

She stayed with him in Moscow and Berlin,

and the creative tempest of the Paris streets.

He watched her each night, but

kept his distance, more awed than afraid.

She stayed with him, when the Stalin plague,

then the Blitzkrieg,

walled his childhood home away.

When he and Bella fled to America,

when the message came, surreal psychic telegram,

that Nazis had hollowed out his beloved town,

that's when he overcame his awe,

when he spoke to her, when she stood,

beckoned him to follow

through the grey lands, past

the smiling red-eyed soldiers, past

the white crucifix leaning above the ruins.

Past all that, and there they were,

breathing in strange new space:

green-faced violin players guarding

vertical streets; carts full of children flying

above rooftops, pulled by manic nags

whose foals romped among stars;

men and women unclothed, unbound

by flesh or gravity, finding untried ways

to interlock; quiet Jews robed in earth

and light, still insisting on prayer;

winged jugglers with hummingbird heads

and wide sympathetic eyes;

all things freed of black and white

to be seen as they always truly were.

His own eyes brimming, he raised

his hands—now seven-fingered—

blew kisses to her glowing form in gratitude.

He built monuments to her in glass,

the light he knew as hers filtered

through the tints of the true universe

which he saw at firsthand each night

beyond the grey lands.

The final time he followed her,

as age, infirmity, uncertainty

slipped from him like a snake's skin,

he flowed across the space between them,

touched her at last, pressed flowers

into her warm, beaming hands.

Blood-red fauns and sea-blue nymphs

danced around his naked body and hers

at their wedding feast.




Mike Allen is president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and editor of the speculative poetry journal Mythic Delirium. With Roger Dutcher, Mike is also editor of The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, which for the first time collects the Rhysling Award-winning poems from 1978 to 2004 in one volume. His newest poetry collection, Disturbing Muses, is out from Prime Books, with a second collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, soon to follow. Mike's poems can also be found in Nebula Awards Showcase 2005, both editions of The 2005 Rhysling Anthology, and the Strange Horizons archives.
Current Issue
27 Jul 2020

Stefan škrtl další sirkou a zapálil jednu ze svíček, které s sebou přinesl, pak další a další, dokud je neobklopoval celý kruh. Hanna nakrčila nos. Svíčky vydávaly zvláštní zápach, ale ne nepříjemný. Připomínal čerstvě posečenou trávu. I jejich tmavě olivová barva byla nezvyklá.
半透明の大江さんが洗面所から出てきて、いつもと同じようにテーブルに向かう。見えない食パンにバターを塗り、見えない新聞を片手に頰張る。まるでパントマイムだ。私はフローリングの床に座り込み、一連の動作を眺めた。
By: Amel Moussa
Translated by: Hager Ben Driss
Many things in my kitchen resemble me; I relate to them; we entertain one another. Water, fire, and electricity vegetables, water rich fruits, and dry fruits
أشياء ٌكثيرةٌ في مطبخي تُشبهني أتماهى مع هذه الأشياء ونُؤنسُ بعضنا.
He ignored her remark, ignited another match and lit a small candle. Then another one. He continued until a circle of candles surrounded them on the stage. Hanna scrunched her nose. The candles exuded a strange smell, but not an unpleasant one. It resembled freshly mown grass. The color was unusual too, a deep olive-green.
By: Eisuke Aikawa
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
The translucent Ōe-san steps out of the bathroom and sits at the table as usual. He spreads butter on an invisible slice of bread, takes a bite, and chews it, holding the morning paper in his other hand. Just like a mime. I sit on the floor and observe his movements.
Issue 20 Jul 2020
By: Ranylt Richildis
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: JD Fox
By: JD Fox
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: JD Fox
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for our Mexico Special issue, which will be published at the end of November 2020!
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons lanza su convocatoria en busca textos narrativos para su Especial de México, que se publicará a finales de noviembre de 2020!
Issue 13 Jul 2020
By: Alex Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kimberly Kaufman
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Jul 2020
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Thomas White
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Load More
%d bloggers like this: