Here you’ll find merch, Issue #18 story excerpts, interviews, the issue’s Spotify playlist, & links to reviews. So take a look, and make sure you haven’t missed anything!
Artwork by Tajae Keith
Long ago – well before now, but not so distant as then – there was a crow called Broadfeather who worried she’d never find a name.
Back then, oh baby-love, all of the crows lived on an island so small it barely merited the name. That green upstart rock was split in two by a river that ran in both directions away from its source.
On one side of the river was Life and everything that breathes, bleeds, and breeds. On the other was Death and all Her treasures. Smack dab in the middle of both grew the moko forest where poison and pleasure grew leaf-to-petal close, and the mist was knit together from the last wishes of wistful ghosts. In the canopy of that forest First Crow, the very first of her kind, god and many times great-grandmother to Broadfeather, had made her home.
A mean yellow eye fixed on me from the other side of the window where the white gyrfalcon perched. He’d been tapping on the glass for hours. Big Ma had used the same nasty familiar to summon her line for as long as any of us remembered. I’d known it was a matter of time before she found out I was dying.
Follow the falcon, and we would have the confrontation I’d been dreading. Look at me, girl. She would cup my chin, leveling me with an eyeballing that could teach her bird a lesson. Her hair tied back in one of her bright handkerchiefs. Short, tight curls, long turned white with age, peeking from under the fabric.
Didn’t I teach you better? Magic ain’t for fools.
The weight of his disapproval settled onto her shoulders through the receiver. It was all he would willingly give her today.
“Again?” he asked.
She closed her eyes and leaned her wrapped head against the filthy glass of the FreeCall box. Traced the spider-webbing crack in the glass with her gloved finger. The years in between her dislocations had turned into months, turned into weeks. Her calls became more frequent. “Yes. Again.”
“Do you know how many times I’ve had to listen to you say,” he mimicked her voice, “‘This is the last time?’”
I know, she thought. Or rather, she had a sense and couldn’t bring herself to say it.
Instead, she waited.
He waited longer.
Fetid water and putrid green-brown sludge seep into the cracks of Olivia’s worn shoes. She grimaces with every squelching step, but she cannot stop running. There’s no time to wipe the sweat from her brow nor to wash her brown forearms, streaked with still-wet blood. She cannot take even a moment to comfort her squalling newborn sister, Leila. Fresh from their Mama’s womb and hastily tied in a wrap, the babe’s midnight-black skin is still covered in drying white birthing fluid.
If Olivia falters, even once, both of them will die as cannon fodder.
Poem: A Demon at my Window by Aigner Loren Wilson
Poem: in which my grandma departs this realm for three hours by Praise Osawaru
Cover Artist – Tajae Keith: Tajae Keith is the cover artist for FIYAH #18! We interviewed her about her style, her process, and the artwork she did for us.