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You cannot build anything soft
that does not become hard.
Even the stories turn into gold,
running down the people’s throats.
They cough red and yellow
into handkerchiefs,
drop them into the sewers.
The very dust—
microscopic cubes of gold,
stick in their lungs.
Food must be eaten quickly.
As it touches the tongue
it begins to taste like words, like truth,
like blood, like everything
in this place.
Some children are born statues.
Some look at the world
blindly, with gilded eyes.
Around this valley lies a golden wall.
They believe it is to keep people out.

Leslie J. Anderson's writing has appeared in Asimov’s, Uncanny Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and Apex. She currently lives in a small white house beside a cemetery with three good dogs and a Roomba.
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15 Apr 2024

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