Size / / /

1) I cannot cry.

2) The leaves fall. Over the long winter they rot under snow, they give birth to new ground.

3) The winters are gone; the leaves, paperbag brown and rigid, clog my front yard, too heavy for raking.

4) I have never loved you.

5) I want to buy a piece of furniture. A leather sofa, a Chesterfield, handsome and dignified and enveloping in all the right places. Upon it I will huddle, covered in a blanket of last December's foliage.

6) The dying leaves cocoon me. I transforma mermaid, a unicorn, a slug, a hedgehog.

7) I do not transform. I stay the same, fat and graying, all my colors bled into the dead leaf wash.

8) My new piece of furniture warps under the weight of the snow. I take the crowbar to take it apartisn't that what one is supposed to do in fairytales?

9) I have never owned a crowbar.

10) It hurts too much to wrap my fingers over the handle. My hands and arms no longer obey me. I do not remember if they ever did.

11) Inside the hacked-up Chesterfield there is a heartbox of ormolu and enamel, delicate and filled with the finest perfume of fig and peppery musk. You say I have never seen the heart of you, never cared enough to dab it on my wrists in movements quick and precise, but if I doif I docan the smell-thread spell the way home?

12) There never was a you. You don't know about ormolu, or how enamel is an anthology of sunsets layered upon each other in waves of translucent color.

13) You don't understand poetry, you say. Have you ever told a lie? The ormolu box, its sides coral and pink like the edges of a sunset, that is yours; it has come from you, shaped itself perfectly and secreted itself away. It left you bereft and confused, like a heap of wet leaves that will never see snow. You are always waiting to hear the softness of it falling, and yet you hate snow, you say.

14) I will not miss you when you go. The winter will send me crocuses, wrapped in white paper that will melt under my fingers. I will buy a piece of furniture and give my crowbar away, plant crocuses like succulents upon the windowsill and wait for them to wilt. Under the oaks outside the last-year leaves will warp themselves into birds, and lift off, heavy and limping, into the inscrutable air.




R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant and the Nebula and Crawford-nominated author of Birdverse stories and other works. Their fiction debut, The Four Profound Weaves, is available now from Tachyon Press (2020). You can find R.B. on Twitter at @rb_lemberg, on Patreon at patreon.com/rblemberg, and at rblemberg.net
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