Kosode-No-Te by Sandi Leibowitz

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Narrated by Sandi Leibowitz


Cherry-sprigs on almond silkkosode

In the vintage clothing shop
this kimono speaks to me

How kissing-ripe your lips will look
against my cherries,

it seems to say

“One hundred years old,”
the shop woman informs me.
“Very special.”

The mirror shows me
shuddering in its soft wings
less courtesan than magic crane,
pupils black as moons as if
already he stroked my skin’s silk

“Yes,” I say.
“Wrap it up.”

It shimmers in its gauze nest,
fabric phoenix-egg,
before she shuts the box.

I bathe,
luxuriate in scented oils and steam,
powder my skin dry

bind up my hair in
unaccustomed pins
rouge my cheeks
bite my lips
to bid the cherries come

Clad in my kimono
I wait,
a silken prize,
precious orchid preserved
in a book of antique poems

“Honey, I’m—”

We render him speechless,
my kimono and I

I open my arms
and he falls in

Long sleeves grasp him,
wrap him tight, tighter,
gather him to the kimono’s bodice,
smother him in silk

he shudders

body vacant as a suit on its hanger

Yessss, yesss,
the silk whispers


AUTHOR BIO: Sandi Leibowitz has been, among other things, the Sands Point Hag, a Reveler, a medieval psaltery player, a ghostwriter for a monsignor, a fundraiser and a school librarian. She has never possessed (or been possessed by) a demonic kimono though she is known to consort with dragons.  Her fantasy fiction and poetry appear in far-out places like Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, Strange Horizons, Dreams & Nightmares, Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, vol. 5 and Metastasis, an anthology of speculative fiction about cancer.