Featured Poem II • November 2014

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Otter Script

 

Alex Dally MacFarlane

 
 

what script scratched on stone above bones like a weave: humerus-warp and spine-weft and nested there the otters’ ghosts among spraint and bones scratching stones like ancient hands: what script? what meaning-lost lines? old words or old patterns, ghosts of old clothes, disintegrated in the bones of a 5000-year-old tomb: what stories sunk in mud?

 

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Alex Dally MacFarlane is a writer, editor and historian. When not researching narrative maps in the legendary traditions of Alexander III of Macedon, she writes stories, found in Clarkesworld, Interfictions Online, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and the anthologies Solaris Rising 3, Phantasm Japan, Upgraded and The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2014. She is the editor of Aliens: Recent Encounters (2013) and The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women (2014).

One of her projects is poetry based on archaeological finds, to which “Otter Script” belongs. Other such poems can be found in Stone Telling, Strange Horizons, Through the Gate and Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History.

She writes that “Otter Script” was “inspired by a chambered tomb in South Ronaldsay, Orkney, known as ‘The Tomb of the Otters’ for the notable quantities of otter spraint found among the many layers of human remains in the chambers. I visited the tomb in 2012. Two pieces of stone found in the tomb had incised marks on them, most likely without meaning, but I thought they looked a little like script.”

 

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