Stone Telling

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The Were-Cactus

by Anatoly Belilovsky

Bit by a thorn,
I have become a were-cact-
us. It was fated.
Once I went out often, hoping to attract
a soul-mate, to whom I would be… mated?
But now I stay indoors,
All were-cacti do, both of the ones I know.
We are averse
to winds that blow
and tousle leaves, bend stems, snap branches, scatter seed, raise dust;
we need our peace, my thorns and I. We must
avoid getting over-stimulated.
We'll stay unbent, untouched, unworn,

Anatoly Belilovsky is a Russian-American SF author who has appeared in the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Ideomancer, Nature Futures, Daily Science Fiction, and on several podcasts. He was born in a city that went through six or seven owners in the last century; he is old enough to remember tanks rolling through it on their way to Czechoslovakia in 1968. After being traded to the US for a shipload of grain and a defector to be named later, he learned English from Star Trek reruns, apparently well enough to be admitted into SFWA without the requisite number of cats. He blogs at

Photography: adapted from an unpublished photograph by Shweta Narayan. Used with permission.