A body that is bold to come

by Rose Lemberg

for Alex Dally MacFarlane

She weaves a forest out of darkness.
Out of black, her twig-wary steps
unshine the city into breath.
Between these never-dim buildings, the fox
leaves crumbs of darkness in the streets that know
only its absence.

This city is the library of despair,
a thousand volumes declared lost, annotated
with fluorescence and neon. She longs
for a city with gentler pages — foxed paper and night-
ripened ink, the truth the stars
are folded into,
that speaks forgetfully
between the uncombed branches of the sky.

But if the fox is the city,
Then each night is stolen from her,
choked in a snare of garish wire. The voice
of the sky gurgles. Throttled.

She can still flee
into the corners of old bookstores, if we bring
ink on our fingers, feed the night's breath
to her
before the bookstores go.

When letters erase themselves
from the pages that once held them,
we won't find shelter in this deceitful glare.

Can we survive
these lives that never sleep, become the guardians of her city,
weave a library from the branches in between
the silences that nurtured us? It's then

she'll leap into our hearts.

Rose Lemberg is an academic and an immigrant from three countries. Her short fiction and award-winning poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Fantasy Magazine, Apex, Goblin Fruit, Jabberwocky, and other venues. She is the founder and co-editor of Stone Telling, a magazine of boundary-crossing poetry, and the editor of The Moment of Change, a feminist poetry anthology from Aqueduct Press (2012). Unfortunately, she has been eaten by her novel-in-progress. You can find what remains at her website and livejournal blog.

When asked her opinion on the outcome of a poetic cage match between Sappho and Shakespeare, she replied as follows: "I am not sure about Sappho and Shakespeare; I'd much rather attend a poetic duel between Marina Tsvetaeva and Egill Skallagrímsson. Neither would win, as the world would spontaneously combust a few hours into the match (but it would still be worth it)."

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