Size / / /

watches her fingers shrink
back to human size, her knuckle hair disappear,
leaving only the smooth, ivory skin
so coveted by gentlewomen.
Too tired to forget the rapist
she has stalked to empty alley in her madness,
she feels the flaking, dry skin
of his throat between her sensitive palms.
She feels his death kick cut her shins, again.
Again, in the morning light of the rented room
a cloudy liquid fizzes, full,
in the glass beaker on the desk.
The incessant sound mocks her, marks her
as a murderer. One draught down her throat
last dusk would have kept her human all night.

She picks up the paper coated with London
sewers and smeared with blood, to read
the elegant stanza she awkwardly printed
just hours ago, with her too-large hands,
while sitting on a corpse. She tastes the words.
The consonants bite and are swept away
by fluid vowels. They come so close to closing
the poem, five other stanzas written
in the last five feverish days.
One more stanza, one more life.

 

Copyright © 2002 Mary Alexandra Agner

Reader Comments


Mary Alexandra Agner holds a Masters in Earth and Planetary Science from MIT and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Emerson College. She has spent most of her life observing the universe and writing about it. She makes her home outside Boston.



Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her poetry, stories, and nonfiction have appeared in The Cascadia Subduction ZoneShenandoah, and Sky & Telescope, respectively. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.
Current Issue
28 Sep 2020

disaster arrived; it is a promise
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Maggie Damken's “Undiscovered Hells,” with a designed sound environment.
Although the science fiction community has engaged in a significant, concerted, and necessary effort to correct for many of Campbell’s prejudices surrounding race and gender, there has yet to be a similar corrective effort on matters concerning class and labour.
The unofficial theme for this Short Fiction Treasures column is “arts, crafts, and work.” Whether the art, craft, or work is the main theme of the story, or whether it’s there as background and setting, it can add a level of immersion and satisfying texture to speculative fiction that I find irresistible.
Issue 21 Sep 2020
By: Aqdas Aftab
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: David Clink
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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!
Load More
%d bloggers like this: