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


Content warning:


We changelings measure cost in plastic spoons
(for silver burns, and iron locks the joints
and no enchantment, pills, or fairy runes
can kill our pain for good). When we anoint
with scented balm, beware of lungs, ill-made,
that try to shift to gills or leaves, go tight
and wheeze their fight with air. For we have paid
the price of seeming mortal. Late at night
we'll wonder if our wish was worth the aches,
frustration, glassy-eyed fatigue; the meds,
the minds that struggle, stumble, make mistakes,
the fragile bodies, boring days in beds.
Each precious spoon of living has its price;
for fairy deals are sweet, but never nice.




Shweta Narayan was born in India and has lived in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Scotland, and California. They feel kinship with shapeshifters and other liminal beings. Their short fiction and poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Mithila Review, Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana, We See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology, An Alphabet of Embers: An Anthology of Unclassifiables, Lightspeed: Queers Destroy Fantasy, and Clockwork Phoenix 3, among others. Shweta was the Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship recipient at Clarion 2007 and was shortlisted for the 2010 Nebula Awards.
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6 Dec 2021

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