Size / / /

                The captain in his cabin lay,
                a voice came to him and thus did say,
                "Prepare yourself and ship’s company,
                for tomorrow night you must lie with me."
                                                Traditional

The land is lost and all it held.
Never again will its name be spoken.
I opened my veins and pushed inside
gardens, graves, rocks, books,
first memories of light—but they spilled out of me,
all that I ruled once. The mountain roiled
like my gut, heaved lava
over carved stone and manuscript, and the seawind
blew the flower off the quince.

Oh, the quince. Shut up about the quince,
the last fucking seed you saved
behind your cheek, as in the avalanche
of fire and ash, our people
screamed and fell silent. You saved it and I
drew and drew on the power I held,
all of the structure in the world as I ran up the mountain—
—lovers, graves, blood, books—
cursing the ancestors who brought us here.
I pulled
on my might: the Royal House, the magic
of one, one, and two syllables,
most stable in the land,
benevolent and—fuck, I pulled
and pulled and pulled this structure out of me,
my marrow, my bone, my sinew, my gut,
all to hold my land in place.

Beneath the isles, underwave
where the Star of the Tides slept fitfully,
it stirred and strained, unbalancing the mountain,
unbalancing the world,
sifting
clouds of ash with smoke and thunder
where no structure in the world could hold it,
no ruler could devise
a defense to appease it—so I , I,  I—

I broke my mind. I broke the Royal House:
two syllables into one, seized the Warlord’s Triangle—
one, one, and one—the most dangerous, unstable
deepname configuration in the land,
the pinnacle of power, but it wasn’t about power.
Rage—
rage that my people were dying,
and you and your fucking gardens,
and I, powerless—
          you caught me as I fell,
           the seed behind your cheek, you caught me
               as I fell

Endeavor to ensoul the sea;
sailing from our home's ruin—later
will they say that we sang?
No—tossed by the storm,
we clenched our teeth
not looking at each other.
Survivors. Those lost trailed us as ghosts,
then one by one licked off by the wave—we hid
in our cheeks that last ash,
last sputter of home: seed and thread,
emerald and clumps of earth
into which we’ll never again sink our fingers—

           I stretched
my arms, and with all my might
that had failed and failed us again,
I made a structure out of the deep sea,
subdued the unconquerable wave,
stretched threads of light between my sailors
and they, too, joined me
until the sea was pacified.

           Why not before? Why not this gloriously before
           when we had no reason to hoard shards,
           our home still anchored in the slumbering star?

You do not answer.
Like the others, you keep silent,
your mouth already sprouting.




R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant and the Nebula and Crawford-nominated author of Birdverse stories and other works. Their Birdverse novella The Four Profound Weaves is forthcoming from Tachyon Press in 2020. You can find R.B. on Twitter at @rb_lemberg, on Patreon at http://patreon.com/rblemberg, and at rblemberg.net
Current Issue
27 Jul 2020

Stefan škrtl další sirkou a zapálil jednu ze svíček, které s sebou přinesl, pak další a další, dokud je neobklopoval celý kruh. Hanna nakrčila nos. Svíčky vydávaly zvláštní zápach, ale ne nepříjemný. Připomínal čerstvě posečenou trávu. I jejich tmavě olivová barva byla nezvyklá.
半透明の大江さんが洗面所から出てきて、いつもと同じようにテーブルに向かう。見えない食パンにバターを塗り、見えない新聞を片手に頰張る。まるでパントマイムだ。私はフローリングの床に座り込み、一連の動作を眺めた。
By: Amel Moussa
Translated by: Hager Ben Driss
Many things in my kitchen resemble me; I relate to them; we entertain one another. Water, fire, and electricity vegetables, water rich fruits, and dry fruits
أشياء ٌكثيرةٌ في مطبخي تُشبهني أتماهى مع هذه الأشياء ونُؤنسُ بعضنا.
He ignored her remark, ignited another match and lit a small candle. Then another one. He continued until a circle of candles surrounded them on the stage. Hanna scrunched her nose. The candles exuded a strange smell, but not an unpleasant one. It resembled freshly mown grass. The color was unusual too, a deep olive-green.
By: Eisuke Aikawa
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
The translucent Ōe-san steps out of the bathroom and sits at the table as usual. He spreads butter on an invisible slice of bread, takes a bite, and chews it, holding the morning paper in his other hand. Just like a mime. I sit on the floor and observe his movements.
Issue 20 Jul 2020
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Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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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!
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons lanza su convocatoria en busca textos narrativos para su Especial de México, que se publicará a finales de noviembre de 2020!
Issue 13 Jul 2020
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Issue 22 Jun 2020
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Issue 15 Jun 2020
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Issue 8 Jun 2020
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