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Dripping with sweat, an ache in her head,

A girl wakes in a green bed,

Safe in her mother's house again,

A cloudless sky outside.

Mowers outside roared through her dream,

The bluejays flutter and scream:

A hot and baking day of May,

An hour after dawn.

Her walls are papered with crimson fruit,

Dark and tangling down their root,

Clinging to night in gray and blue.

She loved it as a child.

The room was hers before she was grown.

It's her room once more, alone.

Though her dream calls, "I want, I want,"

It fades in streams of sun.

Still, staring at the wall, she lies,

Tracing patterns with her eyes—

Limbs, elbows, throats, curled roots, black hair,

Aslant, across, and down.

Mother, downstairs, is starting to bake.

The scent makes her belly ache.

She has known these walls too long;

They tell her nothing now.


She walks between the garden beds,

By orange-blazing marigolds.

Her mother paces at her side,

In yellow, with a broad-brimmed hat,

Smelling of scones and raisin toast,

Tall in the unabating sun.

—This is the time to buy tomato starts.

The kitchen garden faces to the south.

I'll plant it all again now that you're home.

—That sounds good, Mother.

—My peonies are reaching for the skies,

Covered in buds. We'll have a record year.

They're glad to see you. Never leave again.

—I won't, Mother.

—Didn't you eat when you were with that man?

You look as though he starved you for six months.

I'll be so glad to haul him into court.

Yes, fruit, blood, flesh,

Silence and night, I knew their taste,

Knew strength when his brutality

Bowed, gentle, at my feet.

—I'm sorry, honey, I'll stop, please don't cry.

I know, you had no choice. He broke your mind,

He forced you, with those eyes. It's over now.


—I'll need your help to cut the daffodils

And carry dead leaves to the compost heap.

The tulips and the hyacinths are past.

—I'm sorry.

—You're getting sunburned. Look at your poor arms.

Why can't you ask the servants for a hat?

You know they'd all do anything for you.

—I'm sorry, Mother.

—Go inside and rest.


That night she walks her room,

Naked and burnt, alone at last.

The mirror by the stained-glass hanging lamp

Reflects her, merciless and clear,

The bony knees, the pale and graceless limbs,

The red and blistered arms,

The seared red skin on lids and nose.

It aches; she feels her heartbeat in her face.

Salve for her skin smells sweet:

Pine needles, smoke, and scented lands

Where they would hardly recognize her now.

She had pale servants in that place.

She was a queen and judge, before the end.

And do they think of her,

Curse her, cold woman, traitor, bitch?

Or do they all forget, as he'll forget?

The paper on the walls

Grows lush by night-time and recalls

Dark eyes between the leaves, muscles and veins,

A mouth with pomegranate stains.

She rubs against the wall, deliberate, calm,

Leaving a smear of balm.

Blue dye rubs off along her chin.

She whispers, "Lover, lover, let me in!"

April Grant lives in Boston. Her backstory includes time as a sidewalk musician, real estate agent, public historian, dishwasher, and librarian. Among her hobbies are biking and ruin appreciation.
Current Issue
27 Jan 2020

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By: Weston Richey
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Weston Richey's “Disemboweled Sonnet for Telling Your Crush You Like Him in the Waning Hours of the Party.”
By engaging the vampiric archetype, Butler and Gomez write black queer lives into an eternal future where we can continue our coalition building, our resistance of hegemony, and the creation of chosen families.
Perhaps for every African speculative fiction novel translated into whatever language, the publisher could publish another African author in their own language.
History treated people like me as curiosities, freaks, and monsters of legend. Human monstrosity is something we've been writing about in SF/F/Spec for as long as genre writing has existed, and that's forever. Writing about myself in those terms, at least in my verse, feels like both reclamation and rebellion. 
Wednesday: Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell 
Friday: Fates and Furies by Christine Lucas 
Issue 20 Jan 2020
By: Justin C. Key
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 13 Jan 2020
By: Julianna Baggott
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Terese Mason Pierre
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Terese Mason Pierre
Issue 6 Jan 2020
By: Mitchell Shanklin
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Nikoline Kaiser
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Issue 23 Dec 2019
By: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 16 Dec 2019
By: Osahon Ize-Iyamu
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liu Chengyu
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 9 Dec 2019
By: SL Harris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessy Randall
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Dec 2019
By: Sheldon Costa
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Mari Ness
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 25 Nov 2019
By: Nisa Malli
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Nisa Malli
Issue 18 Nov 2019
By: Marika Bailey
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Alicia Cole
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 Nov 2019
By: Rivqa Rafael
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Mary McMyne
By: Ugonna-Ora Owoh
Podcast read by: Mary McMyne
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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