Size / / /

I have stayed with a lot of people, over the years, at our place. And, some
day, I was going through old stuff, pictures,

letters, notes... And I see a photo I don't know who

were in the picture, and who left it. It stands

there in my hands like an accursed thing,

an outcast, or a sacrifice to the

unknown spirit. I stare at it,

and still it doesn't bear

any resemblance

to anyone,

to any

of

the people who have shared the place with me, but it must have been left by
any one of the ten or so people or families I have stayed with. It is the
shadow I have always thought is in the rooms, and a prophet and countless
medium spirits said

there were two children in the rooms. I could see the

two children, and the rest of the photo seems

spoiled with dirt, smudgy, moth eaten in

places, and dusty. There is the rich girl,

she is unhappy, and I mean to ask

her why, but I can't ask

her. I don't know

how to talk

to

spiritual beings. She is tanned under a white dress with spaghetti straps.
It's obvious she is bored with her

richness, and then, there is a poor boy. Guilty?

Doubt? Yet it's a face that echoes that of

a poor child. The two children gaze on

the camera's foci, bored because

they have no idea what

melancholy is, and

the rest of

the

photo seems spoiled. I have been staring at the spoiled spaces for some
time now, and then I start seeing forms imaging.

I am seeing a baby. I look again, and yes there is a baby,

like images on a dirty window, dusty window panes,

like two children's handprints, as if the baby was

delivering priestly blessings. But, I know this

isn't a pure baby, a pure spirit, that I am

seeing. I realize in my poem's title I

should have included this

baby, this child

who sees,

who

knows, an imp, a little demon (are they the same?), a mischievous child.
This is the baby that has

blanketed me with shadows I didn't

know. The baby's arms points to

places in the sky where stars

should have been. His face

stands straight up like he

is trying to give the

wind something

to dry its

hands

on.

This

is the

boy who

had turned

into the arms

of a mothering

sleep, in this house




Tendai Rinos Mwanaka has published over 200 short stories, essays, memoirs, poems, and visual art productions in over 100 magazines, journals, and anthologies, and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His books include the political poetry collection Voices From Exile (Lapwing, 2010), Keys in the River (Savant, 2012), a novel of linked short stories, and Zimbabwe: The Blame Game, a creative nonfiction cycle published by Langaa RPCIG (2013). His website is www.facebook.com/tendai.mwanaka.
Current Issue
18 May 2020

“Have you seen the DEATH/GRIP Challenge meme?” Benito Oliveira said. “Yeah, it’s pretty funny,” she said. “It’s people pretending not to kill something with their off hand,” he said, as though she hadn’t responded.
By: Johnny Compton
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Johnny Compton's “The DEATH/GRIP Challenge.”
One spring day, My grandfather caught the universe that just revived.
By: Jong-Ki Lim
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Jong-Ki Lim's “The Fall of Snakes.”
Issue 11 May 2020
By: Gabriela Santiago
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ashley Bao
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 4 May 2020
By: Vida Cruz
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Raimo Kangasniemi
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Apr 2020
By: Tamara Jerée
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: L. D. Lewis
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: L. D. Lewis
Issue 13 Apr 2020
By: Jo Miles
Art by: Galen Dara
By: Jo Miles
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jasmeet Dosanjh
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Jasmeet Dosanjh
Issue 6 Apr 2020
By: Elizabeth Crowe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Shuyi Yin
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Shuyi Yin
By: Nome Emeka Patrick
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Mar 2020
By: Jason P Burnham
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Tara Calaby
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kaily Dorfman
By: Camille Louise Goering
By: Brian Beatty
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Kaily Dorfman
Podcast read by: Brian Beatty
Issue 23 Mar 2020
Issue 16 Mar 2020
By: Lisa Nan Joo
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jenny Thompson
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
100 African Writers of SFF - Part Fifteen: Ghana
Issue 9 Mar 2020
By: Leah Bobet
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Emily Smith
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Load More
%d bloggers like this: