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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
24 Feb 2020

tight braids coiled into isles and continents against our scalps
Podcast: New York, 2009 
By: Mayra Paris
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Mayra Paris's “New York, 2009.”
This Mind and Body Cyborg as a queer figure raises its head in Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s 2019 epistolary novel This Is How You Lose the Time War, as two Cyborg bodies shed their previous subjectivities in order to find a queer understanding of one another.
Carl just said ‘if the skull wants to break out, it will have to come to me for the key’, which makes me think that Carl doesn’t really understand how breaking out of a place works.
Wednesday: The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman 
Friday: Into Bones Like Oil by Kaaron Warren 
Issue 17 Feb 2020
By: Priya Sridhar
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: E. F. Schraeder
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 10 Feb 2020
By: Shannon Sanders
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 3 Feb 2020
By: Ada Hoffmann
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: S.R. Tombran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 27 Jan 2020
By: Weston Richey
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Jan 2020
By: Justin C. Key
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 13 Jan 2020
By: Julianna Baggott
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Terese Mason Pierre
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Terese Mason Pierre
Issue 6 Jan 2020
By: Mitchell Shanklin
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 23 Dec 2019
By: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 16 Dec 2019
By: Osahon Ize-Iyamu
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liu Chengyu
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 9 Dec 2019
By: SL Harris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessy Randall
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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