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
16 May 2022

we are whispered into this new land, this old land, whispered anew
i tuck myselves under coffin nails. and then i am the sun like a nairobi fly, burning spine and skin.
The last deer in heaven flees, and Sestu pursues.
Friday: Spear by Nicola Griffith 
Issue 9 May 2022
Podcast: 9 May Poetry 
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By: Eric Wang
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28 Feb 2022
We would like stories that are joyous, horrific, hopeful, despondent, powerful and subtle. Write something that will take our breath away, make us yell and cry. Write unapologetically in your local patois and basilects in space; make references to local events and memes to your heart’s content. Write something that makes you laugh and cry. Indulge in all the hallmarks of your heritage that you find yourself yearning for in speculative literature, but know that we will not judge you based on your authenticity as a Southeast Asian. 
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