Strong as Salt

by Rose Lemberg

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.
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.
Strong as salt —
my heart is slivered salt,
a mirror made of purest salt
to make me.
I'm giantess
inside this wrapper.
sliding off the eyelash of your dreams.
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,
I'll try my voice again inside this conch.
I'll hear my silence thrive inside this conch.
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,
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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