Size / / /

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.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2022

There is little more inspirational than a writer who devotes her talents to the work of others.
I was twelve when my mother was born. Twelve or thereabouts. If I’d been older, I could have said things like I never wanted to be a daughter; I don’t have a filial bone in my body. Relatives could have tilted their heads at me, insisting I’d change my mind. But I was twelve so I said nothing. I had no relatives.
a few miles from the fallout zone. / You double-check the index card
Unripe morning / cut open too soon
Issue 12 Sep 2022
Issue 5 Sep 2022
Issue 29 Aug 2022
By: Cat T.
Issue 22 Aug 2022
Issue 15 Aug 2022
Issue 8 Aug 2022
Issue 1 Aug 2022
Issue 18 Jul 2022
Issue 11 Jul 2022
Issue 4 Jul 2022
Strange Horizons
Load More
%d bloggers like this: