Featured Poem • December 2014
Within the roots, the stones. I once wrote a river into here, inked it in indigo, feathered it in the wind’s breath. I walked behind the paths as I created them, afraid how my steps would corrupt their flow. Careful to walk only where there was nothing, I pulled even my shadow away from the trees. I inked my forearms in milk only: my name, all the different ways of it, until it dried to nothingness. Brought searingly close to flame the letters on my arms would bake to brown, invisible against my skin once more. Out of the algae-choked pools the frogs croaked in tune to my aloneness, sounds bouncing off my armor of neverborn words. Between me and the world—this world that they said I could not should not make, was unworthy of making; this world they said could not exist. The world my steps marred, the world my breath polluted.
I let myself dissolve in it, sleep, let it be folded between the pages of someone else’s memory. For so many years it had gone from me, gifted away sometimes, but mostly just trashed, deleted, the click of the button echoing against my arms like milk.
Oh, oh, not to find that place again, not to find the thousands of places. Burn it, singe it with the skin, scabbed over—it has bled, it has scarred. Let’s make a new one. Yes. Let’s. You unfold of yourself a hemskirt of a river, black in darkness unlit by fire, and I will let my hair float down into it, and its leaf-laden branches sweep down it rustling: a weeping willow rooted. My words, my body will no longer pollute my world.
And I will braid of your shadows a necklace to string the moon between the cloudsky and the water, I will engrave into the roots your name.
Rose Lemberg was born in Ukraine, and lived in subarctic Russia and Israel before immigrating to the US, where she works as a professor of Nostalgic and Marginal studies. Rose’s prose and poetry have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Interfictions, and other venues. She edits Stone Telling with Shweta Narayan, and is currently reading for her first anthology of fiction-like writing, An Alphabet of Embers. Rose can be found at roselemberg.net, and on twitter as @roselemberg.
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