Turning the Leaves

December 3, 2013


Rhysling Award winner, Prix Aurora Award nominee

Amal El–Mohtar is the Nebula–nominated author of The Honey Month, a collection of spontaneous short stories and poems written to the taste of twenty–eight different kinds of honey. She is a two–time winner of the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem, and edits Goblin Fruit, an online quarterly dedicated to fantastical poetry. Her work has most recently appeared in Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, edited by Ann VanderMeer, and in Chicks Unravel Time, a volume of essays on Doctor Who edited by L. M. Myles and Deborah Stanish. Find her online at amalelmohtar.com.

These are the days of silver, and of gold —
the panting cold, the burst of bright on black
as coins sprout from trees, shiver, fall,
pave the streets with change.
Strange is the turn and tilt of day,
when stray, streaming, fingerling light
gleams slant against the eyes — the scold
of crows, magpies, jackdaws, gulls,
shouting the season in.

We count our birds. We read their wings. We script
stories in the scrim of puddled ice, tell tales
to ease the winter in. We sing

we had a lady, tall and fair
who spun the springing wheel for us,
who quenched our summer thirsts, who sank
her hands into the humid loam
and turned the understory. We had
a lady, warm and wise,
who bore us in her brimming arms,
who fed us all the very best
of fruit and root and flowered stem,
and if her blessing falls on us
we’ll have her like again.

The wind is thin and grey, the sky
a half–drunk seeming — the gold will pale,
the silver streak and circuit into frost, the air
will spindle into needles —
but if her blessing falls on us,
we’ll have her like again.

© Amal El-Mohtar

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