Stone Telling

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In the Firebird Museum

by Sonya Taaffe

The cases are empty. The labels describe
what cannot be caged without turning to rumor, ash,
though the walls climb with icons of flames and forests
I have ridden in dreams, my eyes burning with exhaustion,
on a horse that was red at sunset, white at dawn.
The guard's girlfriend calls her Vasilisa,
her tousled hair the color of cherry stains.
Each time her hand slips for her lover's
beneath a folded arm or the glass-colored sun,
I want to see her fingernails flickering with light.
In the library she lets me into, I visit the violin
photographed some decade between the wars
we were too young to fight in, scarring all the same.
Its strings comb out like welder's sparks,
a comet's crackling mane,
its bow burrs end to end like cinnabar.
Its eyes still watch me, open between notes
the women will hear after hours, coming to light
as silent as supernova.

Sonya Taaffe's short stories and poems have appeared in such venues as The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry, People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy, Last Drink Bird Head, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, The Best of Not One of Us, and Trochu divné kusy 3. Her work can be found in the collections Postcards from the Province of Hyphens and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books) and A Mayse-Bikhl (Papaveria Press). She is currently on the editorial staff of Strange Horizons; she holds master's degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object.

Photography: from the Last Folio - What Remains series by Yuri Dojc, reprinted here with permission of the photographer.

What Remains (Hanishar) explores the aftermath of the Holocaust in the photographer's native Slovakia; it includes portraits of survivors, and images of abandoned synagogues and books. This internationally exhibited series is now a part of the permanent Holocaust Remembrance Installation at the Shaarei Shomayim congregation in Toronto, Canada. The installation opened on August 26th, 2012.