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
30 Jun 2020

Finding your community can feel like finding home and family
Something knocks on the door. Esther, dreaming, would like to ignore it. Instead, she blinks awake and grabs her shotgun, because dead things typically call for bullets, not spell work, and whatever wants inside her home is certainly dead.
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Carlie St. George's “Monsters Never Leave You.”
Beep, she thought, and then said it aloud because she had a beeper and why the hell not. “Beep. Beep.”
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Janelle C. Shane's “68:Hazard:Cold.”
And on the terrace: Célia. Dark fur shining like tar in the moonlight, snout long and wrinkled.
a quake fractured my wall, / but my portraits didn’t fall. / They disappeared one by one
in the name / of Mercy / I wished a wish―which the Universe soon granted―
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents the poetry from the June 29th issue.
By forming their own chosen family as the Sea Salt Trio, Roxas, Axel, and Xion are eventually able to fight for their own lives and purpose.
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 1 Jun 2020
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Strange Horizons
Issue 25 May 2020
By: Dana Wilde
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 18 May 2020
By: Johnny Compton
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jong-Ki Lim
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 May 2020
By: Gabriela Santiago
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ashley Bao
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 4 May 2020
By: Vida Cruz
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Raimo Kangasniemi
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Apr 2020
By: Tamara Jerée
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: L. D. Lewis
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: L. D. Lewis
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