The Ferryman

by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

the shadows come creepin into me;
they stain my bone-bar cage all dark.
swamp water cradles brittle bones
as the leaves of the willow part.
skin's bloated, too full on rain water and the New Orleans moon.
they say a little water never hurt anyone.
i say there's worse ways to die.

i seen snakes slipping up the throats
of children, crawlin into the world
across a bridge of untouched tongue.
i seen people with nowhere else to go,
hands strung to their sides, waiting, waiting.
they all got stories to tell,
till today. these shadows never speak.
my spine shrinks as they climb aboard and paw the water.
tar black ripples shiver the surface:
there's worse ways.

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam lives in Denton, Texas, with her partner and two literarily-named cats: Gimli and Don Quixote. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction. You can find her on her blog, Short Story Review, or on her website.

Her favorite fruits are the peaches that used to grow on her parents' peach tree before it was struck by lightning; these days, the tree still produces — even though the trunk is bent sideways — but the fruit are so close to the ground that they are infested with worms before they are ripe.

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