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for 17P/Holmes and Eric Van

He shakes the frost off his badger-black hair,

coming aboveground in the deadening cold

so absolute, the sky is bursting to black ice,

stars snapped loose—even a comet glitters

like gunpowder, in microcosm the universe

exploded, a clockwork of collision and dust.

The volume under his arm crackles open,

pried to pages of mica, their mathematics

crosshatched with a lacquer frieze of ink

shining under starlight, each uncalculated

vacancy diagrammed around with hazard,

sloe-leaves, ash-keys, fir-cones in a strew

around his feet assimilating unnoticed to earth

that shrugged him out, now summer's last

crackerjack tinder crisps colorless underfoot.

Between planets and parabolas, he winters out.

The moon bows and hollows like his smile,

right hand against left, not playing dice.




Sonya Taaffe reads dead languages and tells living stories. Her short fiction and poetry have been collected most recently in the Lambda-nominated Forget the Sleepless Shores, and previously in Singing Innocence and Experience, Postcards from the Province of Hyphens, A Mayse-Bikhl, and Ghost Signs. She lives with her husband and two cats in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she writes about film for Patreon and remains proud of naming a Kuiper belt object.
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11 Oct 2021

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Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
In this episode of the Strange Horizons fiction podcast, editor Kat Kourbeti presents Lisabelle Tay's "Surat Dari Hantu".
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