Mari Mild

by Sonya Taaffe

In the country the fiddler came from, or one of the countries (they fall from him some nights like chains of stars in winter), they give children Death to sleep with in their arms at night: or that face of Death which is also spring, which is luck, a skull in ribbons, an empty bottle's sly wink, bells to chime merrily the hunting of time down into the dark. They cuddle with the grey mare, chew on her button-ringed bridle, drag her round by a stuffing-squashed waist until she curtseys drunkenly to every morning, friendly and stalking as the cat washing itself indelicately on the window seat: a soft bone grin. Weather-torn and worried, loved with the violent carelessness of childish things, she will fall away from them eventually, catkin-fuzz shed on the green unwinding road. When she comes round for the last time, they will know her, and put their arms about her swaying neck as she clacks her jaws, long as their lives, and beckons: away astride the long, unwaking night.


Sonya Taaffe's short stories and poems have appeared in such venues as Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction, The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry, Here, We Cross: A Collection of Queer and Genderfluid Poetry from Stone Telling, People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy, Last Drink Bird Head, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, and The Best of Not One of Us. Her work can be found in the collections Postcards from the Province of Hyphens and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books) and A Mayse-Bikhl (Papaveria Press). She is currently senior poetry editor at Strange Horizons; she holds master's degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object.

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