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Brighid

June 3, 2014

Original

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She writes both fiction and poetry, and has won the Rhysling Award and the Elgin Award. Her credits include Analog, F&SF, and Strange Horizons. She has an antiquated website at https://www.marysoonlee.com and tweets at @MarySoonLee.

Six years old,

youngest of the demon’s servants,

didn’t cry when the king

roused her after the demon’s death;

nor when, an hour later, she remembered

the cut-off scorched scream

her dad gave, aflame;

nor when, towards evening,

a fishmonger recognized her

and offered to see her back to her aunt;

nor when, weeks later, the fishmonger

delivered her to her aunt, who hugged her —

and hugged the fishmonger —

and wept.

That night the farm tomcat,

a gray and surly mouser

not inclined to affection,

laid down on Brighid’s blanket

and matter-of-factly licked her arm,

her bare shoulder, her face,

his rough tongue rasping her skin,

and she cried,

thinking not of her dad,

or their burnt home, their burnt town,

but of her mother’s voice,

a voice she’d forgotten

until the demon borrowed it,

that she’d known to be a lie

but followed anyhow.

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© Mary Soon Lee

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