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Clouds marred the sky that season, and sapped the earth.
The roses did not bloom. He never crossed paths or matched wits
with a green-kirtled girl, brash enough to lay claim to woods and heart,
bright enough to be right on both counts. No,
when teind-time came, there was no one to save him, save himself.
So Tam Lin held tightly through the changes:
he did not know if his “true self” was elf or mortal man,
tree-eyed or true-eyed, bear or lion or burning coal;
but he did not let go of his own hands,
one clutched in the white-knuckled grip of a boy,
one grasped firmly by a hazy, half-formed future.
When he emerged from the water, he shrouded himself in green
and said: I know you, I love you, I’m proud of you, you’re home.

[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Summer Farah during our annual Kickstarter.]

R. F. Hovis is a storyteller and scholar of the speculative, the strange, and the scientific. Their poetry is debuting before a broader audience in Strange Horizons after a life of nesting in local publications and friendly ears. Although they lack an online presence, you can always try your luck at finding them by the water under a waning moon.
Current Issue
5 Jun 2023

Jackson sat at Kay’s bedside, one of her hands laid atop his, palm to palm, fingertips against the soft inside of her wrist. His fingers measured her temperature and pulse, her blood pressure, and her blood oxygen levels. She was no weaker or stronger today than yesterday. He was unsurprised and uneasy. Her vitals were regular with sleep. She had been resting when he returned from the shore.
You do not mean this as slang.
certain people of the town go outside, kick off their shoes
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