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He sent me a picture

of a long sinuous line, dark

as entrails and wet,

curving on the floor.

‘Sappy,’ he wrote. ‘But

I want you.’

 

‘I want you,’ I replied.

 

I could not quite

smell apple-flesh

and the air suddenly redolent

of borderlands,

early sunsets,

the season trees begin to dress for death.

But I thought of apple skin clinging

to a curve, yet unshaped

by apple-sorcery. I thought

of my mouth pressed against

flushed skin,

my breath coming back to me:

a premonition of the first

sweet bite, and the second.

 

‘Did you throw it over

your shoulder?’

 

These things have their rules.

Don’t let the skin break,

as it curls away from your thumb and knife.

Don’t let the skin break,

as you set the gold-fleshed fruit down.

Don’t let the skin break,

when you toss it.

Listen for the almost inaudible

slap when the peel hits the floor

and the future arranges it

into your lover’s initial.

Witness.

‘I did,’ he says.

 

What is sap? A sticky

mess, a syrup,

sweet-bitter with smoke.

A sugary crusty

tallow ripple

cleaving

the bark. An injury

which leaks a

sweetness —

The vascular system of

flowering things;

movement;

life.



Jessica P. Wick is a writer and freelance editor living in Rhode Island. She enjoys rambling through graveyards and writing by candlelight. Her poetry may be found scattered across the internet. Her novella “An Unkindness” is out June 2020 in A Sinister Quartet from Mythic Delirium. Other dark fiction may be found in Rigor Morbid: Lest Ye Become from Bronzeville Books.
Current Issue
18 Jan 2021

Soft Shoulder speaking softly / quick-stop-tongued lanky cur dog / lisping languid in jeans
By: Zach Ozma
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Zach Ozma
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Zach Ozma's “Soft Shoulder (Excerpt)” with a reading by the poet.
Splinters, old and new. How else can the skin remember the tree? If it hurts, that is the point.
The way I see it, this story is full of symbolic touchstones, visual elements with layers of meaning that are not always obvious, or even accessible, to the reader.
Wednesday: Bulbbul 
Friday: The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson 
Issue 11 Jan 2021
By: Ryu Ando
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Nikki Caffier Smith
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 4 Jan 2021
By: Maya Beck
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Stephanie Burt
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Stephanie Burt
Issue 21 Dec 2020
By: Octavia Cade
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Meep Matsushima
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Meep Matsushima
Issue 14 Dec 2020
By: ML Kejera
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Brigid Nemeton
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Brigid Nemeton
7 Dec 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for the Palestinian Special issue! The issue, edited by Rasha Abdulhadi and Basma Ghalayini will be published at the end of March 2021. We are open for submissions from now until January 31, 2021. Don't wait till the end to send your work!
7 Dec 2020
تقديم الطلبات مفتوح من الان و حتى تاريخ 31 يناير 2021. قدم/ قدمي عملك عاجلا و ليس آجلا!
Issue 7 Dec 2020
By: Toby MacNutt
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Anna Cates
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 1 Dec 2020
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Translated by: Ateri Miyawatl
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Translated by: Adam Coon
By: Vraiux Dorós
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
By: Luz Rosales
Translated by: Andrea Chapela
By: Libia Brenda
Translated by: Allana C. Noyes
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Podcast read by: Ateri Miyawatl
Podcast: Bromelia (English) 
Podcast: Bromelia (Español) 
Issue 23 Nov 2020
By: Michael Bazzett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Michael Bazzett
Issue 16 Nov 2020
By: Cat Aquino
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Michael Chang
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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