Size / / /

This poem is part of our 2016 fund drive bonus issue! Read more about Strange Horizons' funding model, or donate, here.


CONTENT WARNING:


Stop.
Thief.

I do not know what I took.
I was guarding the nest when the storms came—
guarding you—and then the choking dust,
the ash, the grave. Then these bone-plaster men,
waking me out of my sleep, accusing.

This species does not brood its nest.
How could it? Cold-blooded, primitive,
soulless. She stole them.

I raise my hackles and open my mouth,
but their hands already stroke my brow,
soothing. Mock-soft. We understand.
You are hungry, not wicked; what could be wrong
with hunger?

And I was hungry when I laid you.
Hungry as any mother, staying at the nest,
giving up the hunt to keep you warm.

They measure my rotted-out eyeholes,
my scraped-clean skull. They explain me.
Did you know? My beak, my strong smooth jaw,
is shaped to crack you open and devour you.
My swift legs, to run with you,
far from the punishing horns
of your real mother.

It is all right, they assure me.
It is what you had to do. Any woman would eat a child
if she had to, if it was this or starvation.

I do not know. Can I trust my memory?
I think you were mine. I think I loved you.
But these voices ring so loud, so sure, so vivid
that I can see it in my mind. I can feel
your shell crack, your yolk drip down my chin.
Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe I ate you after all,

my egg, my tiny everything,
who I covered with my body
when the storms came.




Ada Hoffmann is the author of The Outside and Monsters in My Mind. Her writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and Uncanny. She is a computer scientist, a classically trained soprano, and an autistic self-advocate. You can find her online at http://ada-hoffmann.com/ or on Twitter at @xasymptote.
Current Issue
30 Jun 2020

Finding your community can feel like finding home and family
Something knocks on the door. Esther, dreaming, would like to ignore it. Instead, she blinks awake and grabs her shotgun, because dead things typically call for bullets, not spell work, and whatever wants inside her home is certainly dead.
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Carlie St. George's “Monsters Never Leave You.”
Beep, she thought, and then said it aloud because she had a beeper and why the hell not. “Beep. Beep.”
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Janelle C. Shane's “68:Hazard:Cold.”
And on the terrace: Célia. Dark fur shining like tar in the moonlight, snout long and wrinkled.
a quake fractured my wall, / but my portraits didn’t fall. / They disappeared one by one
in the name / of Mercy / I wished a wish―which the Universe soon granted―
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents the poetry from the June 29th issue.
By forming their own chosen family as the Sea Salt Trio, Roxas, Axel, and Xion are eventually able to fight for their own lives and purpose.
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
Issue 1 Jun 2020
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Strange Horizons
Issue 25 May 2020
By: Dana Wilde
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 18 May 2020
By: Johnny Compton
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jong-Ki Lim
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 May 2020
By: Gabriela Santiago
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ashley Bao
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 4 May 2020
By: Vida Cruz
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Raimo Kangasniemi
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Apr 2020
By: Tamara Jerée
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: L. D. Lewis
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: L. D. Lewis
Load More
%d bloggers like this: