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Somewhere patio lanterns swing softly through fog and the smell of salt. Somewhere your cat, ginger-haired, precise in the placement of its feet, sitting on the ledge created by the open double windows, watches through the screen the leaves of the red maple drip rain on one another. Somewhere particles, to the north and to the south, spiral around a geomagnetic field line.

Somewhere the lingering juice of strawberries brings your tongue to your lips. Trapped between two mirror points, I already hear them yielding, the rasp of your teeth over those tiny seeds, as the others reach for your fingertips from the bowl. Red stains feather across your wet fingers, a pattern like the veins of leaves. Somewhere an ion or electron slows as it enters a stronger magnetic field, and is turned back. Somewhere your hand tightens on a waist and your fingers pinch almost to pain.

The overhead fan turns lazily, barely stirring the air, which is not only still but still warm, and steam from the shower fills the room as your fingers loosen with heat. Somewhere the stronger field makes the spiral flatten and unwind in the opposite direction. I can feel your skin even miles away, a tactile memory real as salt, as soap, as ashes.

And somewhere a vocal line opens on a fluttering note -- fragile as shale, frenetic as plovers -- and suddenly the magnetosphere becomes you. Everything is made of sunlight and wings, cyclotron motion, iridescent feathers, helical trajectories, jewel tones, and we glance off them like a stone off a pond.

 

Copyright © 2002 Joanne Merriam

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Joanne Merriam is a Canadian poet and novelist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her work has recently appeared in The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead, and Orbis Quarterly International. She is currently working on a novel. For more about her, visit her Web site.



Joanne Merriam lives in Nashville with her husband, three rabbits, and a reproduction sword. Her fiction has appeared in Escape Pod, Brain Harvest, and previously in Strange Horizons. You can find her at joannemerriam.com.
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