Horo-Flash Gemini: Beth Gilstrap

When Twins, Castor and Pollux, Fall For You

You will not see it coming.

They will rush in from the northern sky.

They will mimic swans.

They have had so many conversations with you, equal parts divine and mortal. About the way your father lay on his side in death. About the shotgun you spoke to in place of a human. About the drink, stinging warm in your brain. About the sweetness of a lizard drinking water from daisies. About how you cried when you found a flattened baby turtle or the squirrel, injured, dragging himself to the bushes, you tried to call wildlife rescue, the only other humans who give a damn about creatures with broken rear legs. About Margaret Mead and healing and civilization. About the sickness of evangelism. About single moms. About their boyfriends and husbands and seeping wounds. About getting out, getting anywhere. About Jim Bakker and his magic beans and defrauding the vulnerable. About how it’s all too much to bear, but not only that, about what use you might serve when civilization collapses, about the book that combined Star Trek and King Lear you tried to share with the children. About the one who didn’t know novels could be like that, bleak and hopeful and true and how holy, holy. About wishing the night infinite. About their heads on your shoulder. They will not hold back.

You will hug them with force and know shadow.

They will hug you with tenderness and know light.

You will look at them with watery eyes as though you’ve never seen them.

You will say, “That’s extremely upsetting,” and get on a plane.

They will return to the northern sky, human and glittering.

You will not see it coming.

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Beth Gilstrap is the winner of the 2019 Red Hen Press Women’s Prose Prize for her second full-length collection Deadheading & Other Stories (forthcoming 2021). She is also the author of I Am Barbarella: Stories (2015) from Twelve Winters Press and No Man’s Wild Laura (2016) from Hyacinth Girl Press. She lives in North Carolina with two wild pups and four lazy cats. She has no idea why Geminis get such a bad rap. 

Steven John – Senior Fiction & Special Features Editor