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
3 Aug 2020

By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
The convoy appeared in a cloud of dust against the Martian dawn atop the eastern hills...Were they bringing food, or were they bringing more war into the chapel?
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Christine Lucas's “My Love, Our Lady of Slaughter.”
the freedom offered by thrashing four limbs, by holding your mouth perfectly ajar like a grotto spitting bubbles
By: Krishnakumar Sankaran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Krishnakumar Sankaran
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Krishnakumar Sankaran's “This poem is a dead zone” with a reading by the poet.
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
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