Size / / /

the door is locked.

one of us outside, one inside,

me peeling stars from my shoulders

like chitons from rocks,

shining and wet with the chill of the Pacific,

you, volcano or limpet,

clinging to my mind's eye

like you were born there,

starlight streaming through your keyhole,

hermit with a come-hither suicide note,

written in a dead language.

burning with fury of subduction scorned.

Thoth took a page from your book,

searing language into brains

ill-equipped to use it.

we fumble with the matches anyway,

dementia boiling in the abyss if we slip,

so I'm out here now,

rubbing my shoulders raw,

staring into those million million suns,

and counting coup on my fingers,

making five out of two and two.

the god's book glows blackly now and

the door is locked.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel won the 2006 Rhysling Award for a collaboration with Kendall Evans, edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine, and has edited Star*Line and several Rhysling anthologies. His poems have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. A collection, Some Disassembly Required, winner of the 2023 Elgin Award, is available from him at
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