Size / / /

I don't know where I am.

I close my eyes and there's a forest,

warm and dark, where I can reach out

and touch you. I could get lost

you say, from miles away,

in bed with you

right now

and I am already there, pine needles on the ground,

your body as near as the trees.

Your words make evening of my sheets,

a dim sky falling over woods

seeded in syllables, tangling

breath and branches together

behind the eyes I've shut to find you.

One can believe anything in the dark:

that I could turn and know

the heat of your back,

the curve of your shoulder,

the soft smell of your neck.

There is strange comfort in being lost,

in making a home of uncertainty—

a pillow of moss, a bed of leaves,

a presence out of absence.

But, equally,

one can believe anything in the dark.

I could tell myself stories. I could say

there once was a girl who made woods of words

and lay down in them to dream

lost her breadcrumbs to the birds

and her maps to a running stream

but in the dark, it's hard to know

middles from beginnings

or anything else.

It could be

that you, whose voice is an open door

that takes me no place twice—it could be

that you know exactly where you are,

keep a compass in your breastbone

and won't tell me where it points—

that when you say I could

get lost

you don't mean you will.

But, still,

anything is possible in the dark,

and everything is possible

in stories.

So:

it's warm beneath this blanket sky,

and she has been so cold,

his voice is still as close as sleep,

and still as sweet to hold.

So let him lead her into rest

be it here, or near, or far—

she's always loved the evening best,

the twilight, and the stars.




Amal El-Mohtar is the Nebula-nominated author of The Honey Month, a collection of poetry and very short fiction written to the taste of twenty-eight different kinds of honey. She has thrice won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem and once received the 2012 Richard Jeffries Society Poetry Prize. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple venues online and in print, including Apex, Strange Horizons, Lackington's, and the special "Women Destroy Science Fiction" issue of Lightspeed magazine. She also edits Goblin Fruit, a web quarterly dedicated to fantastical poetry, with Caitlyn A. Paxson. She reviews books for Lightspeed and short fiction for Tor.com. Find her online at amalelmohtar.com or on Twitter @tithenai.
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19 Oct 2020

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