“Night Beasts” by Jennifer Crow
Watch the edges of the forests, child,
And do not blink. Once the sun sets,
Once the last faint blush of rose
Bleeds from the horizon, once the trumpets
Of the king fall silent and the gash-bird
Hums its song from the garden,
Once the air grows chill on your skin
And the scent of funeral flowers taints
And taunts, the night-beasts come.
They run so fast the stars catch
In their fur, spangles glittering
Along their flanks, while the moon
Glows in their eyes. Their breath
Sounds like a river gathering force
Or a murmuration of lovers
Sequestered in silk. They flow
Across the darkness, indigo stains
Against the deeper black of tree
And building. Everything that lives
In darkness falls at their feet—even you.
The old gods took the form of night-beasts
For good reason. Our oldest cave-selves
Remember, bone-deep, the brush of hot breath
Against a cheek, the first sharp slide of teeth
Into soft flesh. We have no choice but to bow.
And that is why I brought you here:
Even a future queen must know
The limits of her power, the weighted paw
Of a greater law than her own.
|Shy and nocturnal, Jennifer Crow has rarely been photographed in the wild, but it’s rumored that she lives near a waterfall in western New York. You can find other examples of her poetry on several websites and in various print magazines including Uncanny Magazine, Wondrous Real, and Analog Science Fiction. She’s always happy to connect with readers on her Facebook author page or on twitter @writerjencrow.|