solar tree art by Brianna Castagnozzi
Nobyl – written by Marisca Pichette, and read by Darusha Wehm

by Marisca Pichette

Denali herds wild grass. She wraps strands 
around her wrists up to her elbows
and walks from the edge of sunrise
to the rim of sunset, dragging the day
and the plains
behind her.

Fairhair breaks roads. His antlers crack
pavement into pebbles, disrupts
gravel and rolls it into earth. He walks
over lands that used to be called
streets, ensuring the people
have gone.

Basil paints with vines. His scurrying
dislodges paper scraps like dying
leaves as he climbs each crumbling building
and paints a landscape 
of the past, the future. His murals color
high-rises into 

Jamila spreads seeds like radiation,
millions of bombs dropped over roofs,
roads, memories. She beats her wings and 
a breeze spun from her effort 
to repopulate 

Santi carries the forest into the city. 
His fur is dusted with pollen, his nose
driving sprouts through cracks. He follows the paths
drawn by all the Nobyl inhabitants, all the children
of disaster.

Qi guards the boundary. Their roots hold the line, their branches
pull poison from the clouds. They grow to cover the skeletons
that fumble and fall with the ages. They know
that Nobyl is the frontier, the first forest
to grow from 
a city.

Marisca Pichette (she/her) is an author of speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. More of her work is published and forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, Fireside, Fusion Fragment, PseudoPod, and PodCastle, among others. A lover of moss and monsters, she lives in Western Massachusetts, USA.