The Quality of Light

Lately I’ve had hurricanes on my mind.

The Quality of Light

Between Camille and Katrina

Light grew indigenous.

Electricity fled. She guttered.

Her calm candle swirled hypnotic veils,

Numbered seven.

In her light, infinite veils.

She swayed. Electricity

Mandated on or off.

Restless wick wavering—but see!

Past the grey appliance shadows,

Past this tin excuse for a room,

Past this middle-class world,

This nothing-class home,

This crazy-class pew:

She lied. Of course

She lied. What else

Could she do?

Between twin-girl hurricanes

Light craved her body.

Air was insufficient.

Liquid boiled off.

She consumed all worship

With careless cruelty,

Easy as breathing.

Fire does that. It’s not personal.

Flames lit the ancient world

Before electricity switched us

On or off. Embers, ashes, odors;

Burnt flesh scented the verdant earth

Before we were named for our parts.

Before we were forced to choose,

She burned. She named herself

In defiance, in uncertain light.

How can I fault her for this?

Published by: Joe

Joe Koch writes literary horror and surrealist trash. A Shirley Jackson Award finalist, Joe is the author of The Wingspan of Severed Hands, The Couvade, and Convulsive. Their short fiction appears in publications such as Vastarien, Southwest Review, Pseudopod, and Children of the New Flesh. He’s been a flash fiction judge for Cemetery Gates Media as well as co-editing the art horror anthology Stories of the Eye from Weirdpunk Books. Find Joe (he/they) online at and on Twitter @horrorsong.

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