Strong as Salt
by Rose Lemberg
1. I have been traveling in cloak of storms turned seven rainbows, turned ragged dusk. My breath against this glass, disowned by tears, occluded by the bleeding rain. My skin this cloak. Beneath it I am pure like seven roads bereft of hope. Like bogs inside my veins, like syllables dissolved in acid. 2. I know the word to blot the vision of the sun and make it blind to grief and dizzy as it burns its way forgetfully, through dark-gnawed sky — I know the word to make the stars unfold their arms of ghostly vapor, comfort me in desolation of the worlds becoming. Behind the grate of fingers every night I stifle it. I press it shut behind my eyelid prison. 3. Strong as salt — my heart is slivered salt, a mirror made of purest salt broke to make me. I'm giantess inside this wrapper. Pygmy sliding off the eyelash of your dreams. 4. Whose voice reverberates inside this conch? Whose voice returns and turns inside this conch? Whose voice betrays, extinguished in this conch? Don't tell me that my heart is pure, I trampled seeds I planted as a girl, I danced upon the grave of faces, the masks I shed to live, survive, exist. I'll try my voice again inside this conch. I'll hear my silence thrive inside this conch. 5. This mottled heart endures between the ribs of sycamores — stillborn, their faithless limbs in foliage of frozen salt beneath the furs of snow This heart endures. It speaks with tongues of chickadees when I'm asleep, it babbles forth my face behind a mask of brittle storms; my voice choked by the whirlwind, words like flint and stars.
Rose Lemberg is an immigrant from three different countries, but is most at home in Berkeley, CA, where she received her doctorate. She currently works as a professor of Nostalgic and Marginal Studies somewhere in the Midwest. Rose's short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, and other venues, and was recently reprinted in People of the Book: A decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her poetry has appeared in Apex, Goblin Fruit, GUD, Jabberwocky, and Mythic Delirium, among other venues, and has been nominated for the Rhysling Award. She edits Stone Telling, a new magazine of boundary-crossing poetry. Rose can be found online here.
When asked to name her favourite weather, she replied, "my favorite kind of weather happens in November, when the last black leaves dance in the wind, and the sky cries out for snow. I love this weather even more when fire is available in the fireplace."
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