Size / / /

When a body's opened, chest-first,
with bare hands, with rocks—
steam rises into morning air,
warms the sharp chill. You want
to clutch it to your breast, tell it
you love its febrile, fluttering life.
To rip it wide and climb inside,
wear it 'til the heat drains away once more.

We live alone, not lonely, on
rocky, saline soil which suffers no plow,
will grow no crop fit for reaping. What surprise,
we look elsewhere to use our hungry sickles?
It is only natural.

(As the stag flees the wolf, the crab the gull.
As corpses would flee fish, surely, if they only could.)

To the rest, meanwhile—our stark cave
crammed with useless trinkets, hanging garden
of dried flesh—this is simply home,
our scrap-lined nest, a crib for carrion-chicks
to practice on each other, file down their teeth
and claws by gnawing bones, a warren
for breeding rabbits.

Lust pairs us off without pattern,
pregnancy just one more way to reckon
how fast (or slow) time passes . . .
yet who did we ever need, in truth,
but each other?

(As well, from time to time, as you—
God's gift. Quotidian bounty
of salt-cold sand and tide.)

Set table, now; sit down. Mind your manners.
Our prayers begin en masse, so flavor-full of grace:
This once-fierce meat—so raw and rare, so savory,
already cooling—receives, evokes,
our most devout benediction.

Old woman, do you make ever sure
to feed the children first.

Former film critic and teacher turned award-winning horror writer Gemma Files is best known for her Hexslinger Series, now collected in omnibus form (ChiZine Publications). She has also published two collections of short fiction and two chapbooks of poetry. Her next book is We Will All Go Down Together: A Novel in Stories About the Five-Family Coven (also from CZP). Her website is here.
Current Issue
6 Feb 2023

Beatriz Nogueira is fifteen years old when her life ends.
A thought for wishes 
how humble it becomes after beliefs on it / burn up
The Thing (1982) as Silent Film 
Your quivering, alien shift from human to halfling to not-quite,   a carrion flower never in bloom, but burst.
Monday: In The Serpent's Wake by Rachel Hartman 
Wednesday: The Monstrous Dreams of Mr. Providence by Daria Schmitt 
Friday: Mundanity by Jonathan Carreau 
Issue 30 Jan 2023
By: Catherine Rockwood
By: Romie Stott
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Catherine Rockwood
Podcast read by: Romie Stott
Podcast read by: Maureen Kincaid Speller
Issue 23 Jan 2023
Issue 16 Jan 2023
Issue 9 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
2 Jan 2023
Welcome, fellow walkers of the jianghu.
Issue 2 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
Issue 19 Dec 2022
Issue 12 Dec 2022
Issue 5 Dec 2022
Issue 28 Nov 2022
By: RiverFlow
Translated by: Emily Jin
Load More
%d bloggers like this: