From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

The Hole is the Beginning

Whenever a mother does not have a child
but needs a child, she goes to the hole
and there is always a baby
waiting for her.

She who needs them knows instinctively
where to find this hole. Once they have,
and the child is rolling in their hands,
they understand that the child cannot be ordinary.
They may clothe it with an ordinary love and sing to it
their most common lullaby. But the child drank
from a mountain instead of their breasts. Rather than
from their bones, the child ate desperately the nutrients
of a pond. This child, despite their surroundings,
will have a drop of river water in their blood,

and it will make them a bit quieter
than the children romping around them.
You may catch them too, now and again,
smiling with the others and enjoying
the same warm sand.
But you will also see them suddenly
swimming too far in
with the wild face of someone
searching for something they need.

It will frighten you to death some nights.
But the child needs to look,
will always need to look.
When they’re older, they will start to find it.
Sometimes, they’ll find a kind of gift:
a voice, a tender pliable voice,
that can make hardened men
feel boyish enough to look at the stars.

Other times, it may not seem like a gift:
the child with a sexless beauty
whose face somehow reminds you of the rain.
The child whose voice is like thunder
but whose hands are like hummingbirds.
These children may not feel connected,
but it’s their otherness that connects them.
When they do go out into the world
they feel an odd loneliness
almost immediately.

Before they go, hold them.
Before they leave, touch their ears
with the same lullaby you sang before.

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Angel Leal

Angel Leal. A non-binary person of Mexican descent with long, curly brown hair, wearing black rimmed glasses, looking down a bit shyly, and standing against a creme-colored curtain background.

Angel Leal is a Latinx genderqueer poet from Texas. Their previous work is out or forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Radon Journal, and Kaleidotrope. At the moment, they’re inspired by the works of Megan Milks and Kai Cheng Thom, insects found in their backyard, and local folklore from their haunted hometown.