by Crystal Sidell she yanks arrows from her wounded organs, collects infection seeping out each gash, (i will not die of pain unjustly served—) unfolds wings, long unused, too-long abused, to rise above wild, nettlesome bushes (i refuse to choke on neglected weeds—) and slingshots toward the tallest pines. some- times she shivers. the haunting sensation (i won’t be still in chill-creeping darkness—) of someone reaching for her quiver's hard to quell. but high above the forest floor (i won’t succumb to dizzy spells, inkwells—) she unearths poisoned-tipped arrows from her trusted case. mercy’s fled. she’s rusted-out (i know which weapons are the deadliest—) from cries gone unheard, a thousand soundless arguments intended to clip her wings. (i keep meticulous, scratch-free records—) she pulls light and steady on the longbow, serene as the breeze carries each sick-soaked (i know how to infect them, easily—) missile to her comrades—the hardiest trunks absorbing, circulating toxins (i'm not adverse to summoning bloodbaths—) through their limbs. behold! rotten knaves, eager to gobble whatever ripe fruits dangle (i'm ready for the wickeds’ unburdening—) in their path. how the yellow juices sluice their veins, explode them into confettis (i’ve always admired truth on the canvas—) of garbage. how she sweeps groundward, heels crunch- crunching among leaves, fleshless bones. how she (i’m waiting for the black wing-flaps to sound—) grabs a humerus—hollowed like a reed and parts her lips to play a merry tune. (we dance, we smile, crunch-crunching our bone pile—)
A native Floridian, Crystal Sidell grew up playing with toads in the rain and indulging in speculative fiction. She holds a master of arts in both English and library & information science, moderates two creative writing groups, and has reviewed books for the Florida Library Youth Program. When she’s not busy working, she’s usually looking for ways to spoil her pets or stopping traffic to rescue animals. She dreams of traveling the world and hopes to someday revisit New Zealand. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in 34 Orchard, Apparition Lit, diet milk, Frozen Wavelets, Orion’s Belt, Strange Horizons, and others.