Size / / /

He draws on the iron claws
forged by the blacksmith,
eats the raw meat and honey
the villagers have brought him,
last of all
pulls on the thick pelt.
Dark smell, earth smell.

Now, you say, he becomes a bear.
Truly a bear, though summerlong
he's lived among them
learning to hunt and growl,
learning bees and old gods.

What happens next? I ask.
We're skin and skin,
the night's around us
as your lips move, storyteller.

Next, you say, he goes into the woods
where the wolf-demon dwells.
The villagers never see him
again, their protector,
but their milk stays uncurdled,
cows' tails uncut, bones unbroken.
They know he saved them.

But they never speak of him.

Only the witch remembers,
wise-eyes makes an offering
yearly, on the day the bear walked
into the demon woods.
She burns rowan, brings honey
and sweet, sweet berries
for him
who heard the bear king's last breath,
who killed the demon,
who was man and bear
and asked for nothing.

Silence. I'm crying
as you do, after a story.
We drift to sleep.

I dream of iron claws and honey.




Sara Norja dreams in two languages. Her poetry has appeared in publications such as Goblin Fruit, Strange Horizons, inkscraw, and Interfictions. Her short fiction has appeared in various publications and is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Online and An Alphabet of Embers (ed. Rose Lemberg). She is @suchwanderings on Twitter.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2020

The day the last qawwal was killed, my childhood city, already known for its lethal silence, for its censorship of words, for its refusal to listen, went into a deep deep quiet.
By: Aqdas Aftab
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Aqdas Aftab's “Quiet.”
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Issue 14 Sep 2020
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Issue 7 Sep 2020
By: Catherynne M. Valente
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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
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Issue 24 Aug 2020
By: Leslie J. Anderson
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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Issue 17 Aug 2020
By: Emma Törzs
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liz Adair
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Issue 10 Aug 2020
By: Anya Johanna DeNiro
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Laura Cranehill
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Issue 3 Aug 2020
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Christine Lucas
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By: Krishnakumar Sankaran
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Issue 20 Jul 2020
By: Ranylt Richildis
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
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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!
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