The Chorus of Dead Girls1 min read


JoSelle Vanderhooft
Resize text-+=

Winter sticks
between our ribs:
lightless shale, bayonets of ice
and last September’s briars.

But hunger’s knife
twists stronger yet.
We move upon its edge,
two by two, Ark-formation,
as magpies turning dun-grass—
no screw or coffin nail or burnished coin,
even those that hid our staring eyes.
(Oh, these latter days
when transcriptase and plague and open sores
make everything so dear,
and yet
so cheap.)

Winter pricks
through knobbled flesh—toad
bloated, liver-speckled, feldgrau
and straw, the tones of fallout
and November.
We rattle with the husks,
deep as first death,
deep as empty belly
worm-twist and acid burn.

And hunger’s tongue
snarls louder than horseflies
that jewel our breasts and ears.
Two by two we’ve abandoned
arks of stone and oak and barest sky
to this receded earth.
(Oh, these latter days
when crude flood and human fire
make everything so quick
and yet
so dead.)

Winter shines
the city—eyeless offices and apis domes
windows pricked in star-frost,
Dry as gossamer
we shuffle through streets choked
in hybrids and still jerking lines,
in equipages
of the unrisen.
Pair by pair, we sniff
through broken cartilage and rot,
though deluge-leavings
for another flood.
(Oh, these latter days
when hearts beat low,
and yet
so very loud).

Winter shifts
between smashed cars
then darts—


on wave-cap white.

Two by two
we join in two by two—
fast as freezing—
fast as hunger—


as judgment poured
in blades of rain.

A beat of blood,
a wave slams
and recedes.
And oh
And oh!

These latter days when blood
and heat
and breath
is here
and is
so ready

For our teeth
our teeth
that tear
like ships through foam.

Winter screams
like birds when land
grabs and gasps at troubled clouds,
then drowns.

  • JoSelle Vanderhooft

    JoSelle Vanderhooft is the author of the novels The Tale of the Miller’s Daughter (Papaveria Press) and Owl Skin (Papaveria Press), and the poetry collections The Minotaur’s Last Letter to His Mother (Ash Phoenix), Desert Dreams (Papaveria) and Desert Songs (Cross-Cultural Communications). Her fiction has appeared several times in Reflection’s Edge and Byzarium, and her poetry can be found in a number of zines such as Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Star*Line, and Cabinet des Fees.

Subscribe For Latest Updates

Be the first to learn about our new releases, open calls, and many activities.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
a white mask with the words apex magazine on it.
Support Apex Magazine on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!

Apex Magazine Ko-fi

$4 funds 50 words of Apex Magazine fiction!