Size / / /

I hear the argument outside the house

each time my grandchildren arrive:

must we smile, must we thank her

even though she never gives us sweets?

Even great-uncle Hansel gives them cake

and cookies. At home, they eat desserts

and candied snacks, begin to whisper

I am the witch and not the victim

from the news, the not-quite-scary bedtime story.

They think I cannot bear to have sweets

in the house, but all these years,

I've shown restraint.

My brother, fast asleep, homesick and weary,

naive and blessed, never tasted that house

at sunrise: sugar stucco, caramel latch

that melted as I lifted it, dripping.

He snored. The witch gave me a spoonful

of pudding, exquisite, unlike anything

I've ever known. The hard sweetness

still burned my throat as she explained

the recipe, the flesh of youth cooked down,

and I must swallow, or choke. Ready disciple,

I learned I was a coward: too timid to push

my brother into the fire, too afraid to pull

the witch out when she fell.

Sweets still have their special taste:

gasoline, sometimes chalk. Vidalias

can get to be too much in allium season.

Still arguing, the children knock

and enter. Quite soon, their parents

will leave them here, alone with me,

the way my husband never let them be.

In my hunger, my lifetime abstinence,

I have long understood the frosting of deceit,

the ease with which one can believe

anything of gumdrops.




Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her poetry, stories, and nonfiction have appeared in The Cascadia Subduction ZoneShenandoah, and Sky & Telescope, respectively. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.
Current Issue
18 Jan 2021

Splinters, old and new. How else can the skin remember the tree? If it hurts, that is the point.
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.
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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