Size / / /

CONTENT WARNING:



Her homecoming is foretold by signs written
in the swirling leaves and omens that raise
their cloudy heads and roar: there was a crow,
some ghostly laughter in the shrubbery,
the birth of a bright new star. Each heralded,
we felt, her footsteps ringing on the path.

She left a twig or two from her besom
when she swept Autumn from the hall.
Where she was then is now an absence
shaped very much like her.
If I look askew I can see it
not-rocking in her favourite fireside chair.

The cauldron by the grate is streaked with rust
like the pins in the wax doll we found
among her other half-done projects
hidden in her knitting box:
old love letters, an unhatched chrysalis,
and several unravelling socks.

A loose page crumpled on the kitchen floor
shows some small magic to make onion soup
and a rare old recipe for the common cold.
On her allotment the neatly planted rows
of herbs are still labelled in a shaky hand:
as water parsnip, artemisia, and mandrake.

She has been away before:
to buy wooden spoons to stir the spirits,
for green glass jars to keep the demons in,
and for woodlouse oil for her familiar cat,
Grimalkin, who suffered badly with his ears.
At first we paid no heed but then we saw:

in her garden green skin glistened wetly
and a sad croak creaked as toads mourned
beneath the hemlock. They had lost heart,
lost the diamonds hidden in their heads,
lost their appetite for snails and slugs
who swelled in slimy armadas on the path.

There were flowers that strangers left the other day,
and a hoard of widows veiled with cobweb-lace.
Now, the black-plumed horses and pumpkin coach
waiting in the lane with a solemn mute
in a stovepipe and stiff frock coat
confirm, this time, she really won’t be back.



Oliver’s poetry has appeared in many venues, including Spectral RealmsStar*line, Illumen, and Rivet. A collection of his short stories, Stars Beneath the Ships, has been released by Ex Occidente Press, and much of his previously published writing is available in Basilisk Soup & Other Fantasies. His website is at https://oliversimonsmithwriter.wordpress.com/.
Current Issue
6 Jul 2020

And they all knew about it.
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Stephen O'Donnell's “Last Orders in the Green Lane.”
Landing feels like getting off a trampoline, / The weightlessness fading to muscle memory
By: Thomas White
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Thomas White's “After.”
Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 1 Jun 2020
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Strange Horizons
Issue 25 May 2020
By: Dana Wilde
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 18 May 2020
By: Johnny Compton
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jong-Ki Lim
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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
Load More
%d bloggers like this: