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I teach you how to nick the skin between your fingers, worry the cut
open and blow on it with hot salty breath, and wait for slow joints to
grow from the slit. Your new fingers are especially skilled at pulling
up loose floorboards and playing with the tangle of my Spanish moss hair.

You used to have wings, but I nibbled them off long ago. You don't
begrudge it; now you are all limbs, the more to hold on to me with.
Your knees and elbows creak as I bend them this way and that, tenderly
so as not to break them. Your skin ripples with laughter at my manipulations.

I show you how to season a broth to perfection with dried compost and
twigs and pieces of oyster shells. Rhizomes of microscopic mushrooms
float on top as we bathe in it, thick steam tickling deep behind our eyes like pollen.

I teach you to break a walnut out of its shell in one perfect piece
and to swallow it whole. The conjoined twin brains of it make a home
deep in your gut, its filigree roots siphoning nutrients out of your
bloodstream as it waits for the perfect conditions to sprout.

Soon I will cut a piece from my body and hold it in place against your
raw flesh with bandages of vine leaves and training wire. When
synchronous buds emerge from both of our wounds, I will wonder if the
coming blooms will be of the same hue.




Layla Al-Bedawi is a poet, writer, and bookbinder (among other things). English is her third language, but she's been dreaming in it for years. Born in Germany to Kurdish and Ukrainian parents, she currently lives in Houston, TX, where she co-founded Fuente Collective and champions experimentation, collaboration, and hybridity in writing an other arts. Her work is published in Liminal Stories, Mithila Review, Bayou Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, and elsewhere. Find her at laylaalbedawi.com and @frauleinlayla.
Current Issue
5 Apr 2021

They say we broke Nairobi; we whose tears do not burn; whose blood runs cold.
i think the princesses are sick of constellations by now
By: Caroline Dinh
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Caroline Dinh's “city girls.”
Issue 29 Mar 2021
By: Iman Alzaghari
By: Fargo Tbakhi
By: leena aboutaleb
By: Nada Almosa
By: Layla Azmi Goushey
By: Najah Hussein Musa
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Iman Alzaghari
Podcast read by: Fargo Tbakhi
Podcast read by: leena aboutaleb
Podcast read by: Nada Almosa
Podcast read by: Najah Hussein Musa
Podcast read by: Layla Azmi Goushey
Issue 22 Mar 2021
Issue 15 Mar 2021
By: Isana Skeete
Podcast read by: Isana Skeete
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
Issue 8 Mar 2021
By: Lorraine Wilson
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Gerri Leen
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 1 Mar 2021
By: Sasha LaPointe
Podcast read by: Sasha LaPointe
Issue 22 Feb 2021
By: Hal Y. Zhang
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 15 Feb 2021
By: Wen-yi Lee
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Feb 2021
By: Varsha Dinesh
Podcast read by: Courtney Floyd
By: Sarah Kathryn Moore
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Sarah Kathryn Moore
Issue 1 Feb 2021
By: Tamara Jerée
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Betsy Aoki
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Paul Starr
Issue 25 Jan 2021
By: Beatriz F. Fernandez
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Beatriz F. Fernandez
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