Size / / /

Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a nail of the tent, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it to the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
    —Judges 4:21

such a muted sound at first

as spike hits skin, then,

the skull's soft crunch.

one would think murder made more noise—

like a battering ram against the temple,

but no, just a simple tent nail

and a cup of milk;

we women have our ways.

had i more time, i would have cooked,

made the bed, washed the dishes—

scheduled in the killing.

but he had come quickly, galloped

himself into my sanctuary,

heaving breath in muffled gasps

and war-weary, as men often are.

i became an eagle, feathers spread,

talons reaching as i flew out to meet him,

and he, thinking i was his dove, his mother hen,

came under my wings, shadow-filled.

i wrapped their warmth around him with

my voice spinning lies, quilted comfort,

my hands tucking in the folds of the blanket

as he slipped into that dream-quenching slumber.

i almost kissed his brow

to drive the pin through.

his mother, far away,

felt the breeze of my hand as it came down,

gentle, a loving breath upon her cheek,

thought her son had come back early in victory,

and opened her arms wide in ready embrace.

when she turned,

her eyes beheld nothing

but red leaves falling

in the morning wind.




Nancy Hightower lectures on the rhetorics of the grotesque and fantastic in art, film, and literature. She is an art columnist for Weird Fiction Review and has had work published in Word Riot, Prick of the Spindle, storySouth, and Bourbon Penn, among others.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2020

The day the last qawwal was killed, my childhood city, already known for its lethal silence, for its censorship of words, for its refusal to listen, went into a deep deep quiet.
By: Aqdas Aftab
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Aqdas Aftab's “Quiet.”
By: David Clink
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents David Clink's “Back Story.”
You like that every single word, image, and idea in my poetry has meaning and is put there for a reason, so when you ask about the plant in my poem and need to know more about it. . .
Wednesday: Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer 
Friday: The Supernova Era by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen 
Issue 14 Sep 2020
By: Fargo Tbakhi
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jenny Blackford
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 7 Sep 2020
By: Catherynne M. Valente
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Bethany Powell
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Bethany Powell
Issue 31 Aug 2020
By: R.B. Lemberg
By: Julia Rios
By: Sonya Taaffe
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: R.B. Lemberg
Podcast read by: Julia Rios
Podcast read by: Sonya Taaffe
Issue 24 Aug 2020
By: Leslie J. Anderson
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Leslie J. Anderson
Issue 17 Aug 2020
By: Emma Törzs
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liz Adair
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 10 Aug 2020
By: Anya Johanna DeNiro
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Laura Cranehill
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 3 Aug 2020
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Krishnakumar Sankaran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Krishnakumar Sankaran
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!
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