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My steelwife guards the border worlds
Her greeting is tinny
the wrong syllables
But she always has a human smile for me
for now

I lose more and more of her
to the silent-screaming hungry dark
a finger
a patch of hair
a heart
as she leaves mortality behind

She always returns to me
indicator bulbs soft gleaming blue light her footfalls home
for now

It’s for me, she says, as
steel fingers curl inside me
smooth, cold lips brush my cheek
blue will-o-wisps cross my skin
winking in and out

She does it all for me
to keep me safe
and if I cared about her
I’d do it too
Remove the fear of death from her entirely

But there are
I fear more than dying

And as she pulls my hair too tight
because pain isn’t the same for her anymore
as she stops asking
because my answers are inconsequential
as she takes ships further from me
and closer to power
climbing ranks stabbing backs crushing resistance

It’s for me, she says
But I think it’s for her


[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from the SFF crew of WriterHouse during our annual Kickstarter.]

Catherine O’Ciarmacain is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, and romance (as many as she can pack into one story). Check out her website for lying mermaids and androids, knitting witches and werewolves, and love that is sometimes evil.
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26 Feb 2024

I can’t say any of this to the man next to me because he is wearing a tie
Language blasts through the malicious intentions and blows them to ash. Language rises triumphant over fangs and claws. Language, in other words, is presented as something more than a medium for communication. Language, regardless of how it is purposed, must be recognized as a weapon.
verb 4 [C] to constantly be at war, spill your blood and drink. to faint and revive yourself. to brag of your scars.
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