Size / / /

Where have you been, Tattertongue?
     lying with pelvis and ribcage
     wanting want
     old. old.
     reading the mouth for
     sugared ginger for
     blood sausage
Why did you leave?
     there was a forest
     of snapping saplings
     old. old.
What did you find?
     the vertebrae
     they were chopped
What did you do?
     caught a horse
     boiled its hooves
What did you taste?
     bones and marrow-dust
Why dangle from a noose of nettle for so long?
     a mayfly in amber
     old. old—
But how old?
     honey dripped in Loki's gaze
What did you eat?
     numbers numbers
     old. old.
What did you eat?
     numbers numbers
     old. old.
What did you see?
     birch bark, ribs—
Did you cry?
     salt cod—
Where did you sleep?
What did you drink? What did you eat?
What did you eat?
     numbers, numb—
did you return?
     of fiddleheads coiled in candlefish oil
Where is your tongue?
     sealed in a jar of black mead

Publication of this poem was made possible by a donation from Catherine Lundoff. (Thanks, Catherine!) To find out more about our funding model, or donate to the magazine, see the Support Us page.

Jenn Grunigen is a writer, folklorist, and metal drummer. She is a graduate of the 2016 Clarion Writers’ workshop; her writing has appeared in Shimmer, Spolia and elsewhere. Her SF novel, Skyglass, a wild tale of sex, elves and rock ‘n’ roll, is available now from Chromatic Press.
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21 Nov 2022

As far back as I could remember, Oma warned me about the bats. She said they would eat me if they found me exposed at night. But I knew the green light of the moon would protect me, even when I was still smaller than Oma.
The truth is: / she does not have to bend into a ceramic plate to carry us beautifully, & my father / isn't the hand that will break her.
the rattle of the rails, the shuffling-muttering of hundreds of passengers nestled in the one long limb of you
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