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The lies our wise queen weaves cinch her chest.
“I am a dutiful wife,” she says. Breath hitches.
Expert hands guide the weft, tightens her skin.
Lies criss-cross Penelope's breast. Smile falters.
“Any other woman would do the same."
Her tapestry suffocates. Her weaving continues.
This is another thing she endures alone.

The sun sets and Penelope’s bra falls.
Lies she unweaves while her binder unhooks
warp weights—woman wife mother daughter-in-law queen.
She rearranges her fabric-bound breasts and—
flattened, warped—forgets them.
“A dutiful spouse,” she whispers, and her reflection agrees.
Penelope can finally breathe now.

Weft and warp felled, her loom stands naked, free
to weave a tapestry of heart, not expectations.
Years she’s waited. She’s wasted and wanted.
She’s re-borne those weights, re-weaved these lies.
Tomorrow, is Penelope the one strong enough to string
a new warp?

The binder our fair regent wears shapes their chest.
“I am a dutiful spouse,” they say, and smile.



Penny Stirling edits and embroiders in Western Australia. Their speculative fiction and poetry can be found in Lackington's, Interfictions, Heiresses of Russ, and other venues. For more of Penny's aromantic nonfiction visit their website or follow them on Twitter.
Current Issue
17 Jan 2022

The land burns so hot and high tonight that Let can see its orange glow even from the heart of The City of Birds. It burns so thick she can taste the whole year’s growth of leaves and branches on her lips. It burns so fast she can almost hear the deer and cottontails scream as flames outrun them and devour them whole.
I writhe in bed with fever, chills, chatters and shivers. The near becomes far as the far comes close.
No one gets married before going to space.
Wednesday: Unity by Elly Bangs 
Friday: The Cabinet by Un-Su Kim, translated by Sean Lin Halbert 
Issue 10 Jan 2022
Issue 3 Jan 2022
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By: Antonio Funches
By: Lev Mirov
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Dec 2021
By: Merie Kirby
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Issue 13 Dec 2021
By: Freydís Moon
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Dec 2021
By: C. S. E. Cooney
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: C. S. E. Cooney
Issue 29 Nov 2021
Issue 22 Nov 2021
Issue 15 Nov 2021
By: Madeline Grigg
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Nov 2021
By: Allison Parrish
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 1 Nov 2021
By: Liam Corley
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Liam Corley
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