After the Storm

by Irina Husti-Radulet | June 20, 2023

They have black tongues, arteries which are rumoured to pump
cinders and tar. As they summon the gale, words drip like treacle
from their blaspheming mouths, weaving a tale of two horses

who gallop the town: one black, the other white,
like a negative impression. With eyelashes wet from the storm,
they feed only on silver and sea-glass. The mothers in the village

clasp their babies closer, as the riders have been known to snatch
children from cradles and leave behind changelings. A mother
fears the echo of hoofbeats, the mewling on doorsteps. Now,

the sky’s tapestry is violet with a summer storm, and lightning
pierces it like an arrow through a sail. The four winds
sport with the fishing boats, feeding them one by one to the ocean.

After the tempest, the old women comb the shore for elf-bolts and
white feathers. Stooped like tree roots, they gather them up in their aprons.
They don’t wrench pearls from shells or sift for shipwrecked

fragments. The squalls’ blustery offerings turn milk into blood,
and induce the wailing birth-pangs of cattle. But the calves
are stillborn; their silence falls like a plague on the parish. ∎

Words by Irina Husti-Radulet. Art by Isabel Otterburn-Milner.