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When the seafoam of your garment brushed
my bare skin for the first time, I knew
that I’m blessed,
that nobody dear will leave me,
that nothing is lost. The ghost of you
startling and tattered, often berating:
a comforting companion. The quince trees
listen, even if you don’t;
trees listen deeply.

Later, on your destroyed hill
among the wind-felled bodies of my quince trees, I knew
the taste of that ending; no new ghosts rising
from the still-green boughs.
My land, a spent syllable.
My hand, an unformed word
clutching, clutching air.

You are the one I could cradle to my chest,
the exhalation of you, still sputtering
grievances of a thousand years’ past, and I was glad
that you could still be bitter. I know

that we are whispered into this new land,
this old land, whispered anew,
a land which did not need us, or anyone,
delivered by its own desolation,
rejected and rejecting, but still
it let us come here, grudgingly,

gesturing the long, slow words of its rule.
On more than one condition—but one of them, you:
your death, your endless complaints
beyond all disasters—all you.
Not quite dissolving, never ending,
prepared for nothing good, and yet

replanted. And I will tend to you
beyond my own death, if I need to,
into a tree of your own self, retelling
yourself, and me with you,
through all the cycles of land,
until once again
we are ready to bloom.



R.B. Lemberg is a poet and fantasist living in Lawrence, Kansas. R.B.’s debut novella The Four Profound Weaves was shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Ignyte, and World Fantasy awards; it was also an Otherwise Award honoree. R.B.’s novel The Unbalancing is forthcoming from Tachyon in September 2022. R.B. was born in L’viv, Ukraine. Follow them on Twitter at @rb_lemberg or visit their website http://rblemberg.net.
Current Issue
26 Sep 2022

Would a Teixcalaanli aristocrat look up at the sky, think of Lsel Station, and wonder—with Auden—"what doubtful act allows/ Our freedom in this English house/ our picnics in the sun"?
I propose that The Expanse and its ilk present us with a similar sentiment, in reverse—a warning that for all the promise of futurism and technological advancement, plenty of new, and perhaps much worse futures are right before us. In the course of outrunning la vieux monde, we may find that we are awaited not simply by new worlds to win, but also many more which may yet be lost.
where oil slurped up out of the dirt, they drink the coffee
Science fiction is a genre that continues to struggle with its own colonialist history, of which many of its portrayals of extractivism are a part. Science fiction is also a genre that has a history of being socially progressive and conscious – these are both truths.
Bring my stones, my bones, back to me
If we are to accept that the extractive unconscious is latent, is everywhere, part of everything, but unseen and unspoken, and killing us in our waking lives, then science fiction constitutes its dreams.
they are quoting Darwish at the picket & i am finally breathing again
Waste is profoundly shaping and changing our society and our way of living. Our daily mundane world always treats waste as a hidden structure, together with its whole ecosystem, and places it beyond our sight, to maintain the glories of contemporary life. But unfortunately, some are advantaged by this, while others suffer.
Like this woman, I am carrying the world on my back.
So we’re talking about a violence that supplants the histories of people and things, scrubbing them clean so that they can fuel the oppressive and unequal status quo it sustains.
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