The End of Scheherazade

By Nancy Sheng

The train moved through my senses,

a smear of spilled India ink,

and underneath the weight of my tongue,

I tasted oranges.

I told you this, three times,

that I always start my stories the same,

with these words:

Once there was a girl, and her death.

Her death lived with her all her days.

I wanted to be Shahryar,

and you could bring me a thousand wonders.

The last one you keep for yourself

and it could have lit up the bright spaces,

me sitting cross-legged, a ragged lotus,

my nails scratching snakes into your feet.

You could have loved me, so impossible,

and I could have wistfully let you go.

Somehow that sounds more heroic,

falling onto my shield, my ribs splayed,

and hyacinths could have grown from my lungs,

saying always, This here was a beautiful thing.


Nancy Sheng was born in northern China and raised in a ragtag fashion across Canada and the U.S. She is currently a graduate student in library sciences. Her work has been previously published in Goblin Fruit and Stone Telling.

Comments

Like most readers of poetry, am allusion-illiterate so I settle for the next best thing, the sound and cadence and surface meaning of the words, including the images they evoke. I like this poem and its wistful quality at the end, although if you ask me what it really means, I honestly couldn't tell you. But I enjoyed reading it(as well as other poems in Strange Horizons) and that is all that matters.

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