Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning writer of prose, poetry, and criticism, who divides her time and heart between Ottawa and Glasgow. Her stories and poems have appeared in magazines including Lightspeed, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, Apex, Stone Telling, and Mythic Delirium; anthologies including Kaleidoscope, Glitter and Mayhem, The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, and Welcome to Bordertown; and in her own collection, The Honey Month. Her articles and reviews have appeared in the LA Times, NPR Books and on Tor.com.
Turning The Leaves
These are the days of silver, and of gold —
the panting cold, the burst of bright on black
as coins sprout from trees, shiver, fall,
pave the streets with change.
Strange is the turn and tilt of day,
when stray, streaming, fingerling light
gleams slant against the eyes — the scold
of crows, magpies, jackdaws, gulls,
shouting the season in.
Amal El-Mohtar’s poetry is evocative and sumptuous in the best sort of way. “Turning The Leaves” won the 2014 Rhysling Award for short poem.
I love the way this reads like an invocation, and the naming of the different birds reminds me of Charles de Lint’s Crow Girls, who are some of my favorite characters (even as I’ve outgrown de Lint’s work, I will always be fond of it). The interlude description of the spring lady and the hope for her return. “Turning The Leaves” also reminds me of the titular character of Nicola Griffith’s Hild–she also reads the birds and is able to predict storms from their movements. This is a connection that I find deeply pleasing.
Here are some other poems–and I also recommend El-Mohtar’s poetry collection, The Honey Month. I mean, of course I would. It’s about honey!