by Mary A. Turzillo

Inert but for steel eyes,
she is a dishrag over broken china,
a silk gown washed in stagnant mud,
her hands walking-sticks under rotted kid leather.
They laugh at her image:
she is an extinct flag hanging on a broken stick,
she fruits with frightening clots of flesh gone wild
desiccated by chemo and leeches
her mind reined behind paralytic prisms.

But she will rise.

She owned the runways,
Triangle d'Or fashionistas aping her look.
In Aida, her voice cracked Waterford vases
still in their foam Irish nests.
She rode princes of industry as if they were carousel tigers.
She filibustered and decided elections.
She bought asteroids and gave them to orphanages.

Now she dreams of her beloved
whose power once moved continental plates
until he grew ancient, like a burned oak
like a country drained, condemned to be desert.
now bone and old clothes 
under pastures where stone horses graze,
a thousand miles away.
Quiet as ice.

She waits behind polished steel eyes.
For she will rise. She will fly to his grave.
She will lug the stone away,
claw into the turf with her own jointed sticks,
unearth his casket and kick it open with flamenco heels.
She will lay her bleeding lips against his
and he will taste the smart of her blood
and he will claw through the coffin and dirt 
His eyes will open and uncloud.
He will see the sky and know that it's his.
And he will rise.

And they will rise.
They will inhabit platonic bodies
and ride destriers and fusion engines
they will harness the power of death.

They will cut down all that opposes them,
they will grind the bones of their adversaries to season their bread,
riding outward and outward toward some eclipse
none but the god of the sun can envision.
They will laugh, they will love,
their substance transformed to ether.
They will wield Excalibur and Hrunting, Joyeuse and Tizona,
laughing as demigods fall before them.

When they die the cosmos will burn.

Mary A. Turzillo's work has won a Nebula, an Elgin, and a surrogate ride as recommended reading on the International Space Station. If a mask were to choose her, it would be a fencing mask, with glittering green eyes visible behind the mesh, as the wearer prepared to stab or be stabbed.

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