Size / / /

(after Wallace Stevens)

I.

Among twenty

abandoned space stations,

blackbirds settle to scavenge.

II.

Artificial intelligence

going mad

takes advice from blackbirds.

III.

Blackbirds play in autumn winds,

a small part of the

habitat's rapture.

IV.

A man and a blackbird

and a hostile alien soldier

are one.

V.

Blackbirds stop whistling

only to crack the whitened bones

in old settlements.

VI.

The last settlers dream of blackbirds.

Ice feathers across the biodome.

VII.

Oh worm-men of Io,

why imagine bird gods

when blackbirds hunt you?

VIII.

We know the rattle

of feather-stalled ship's engines

and curse the blackbirds.

IX.

When they fly out of sight,

they mark the edge of

the universe itself.

X.

Police-droid blackbirds

get green light.

Bawds of privacy cry out sharply.

XI.

The shadows of alien ships

and the shadows of blackbirds

converge.

XII.

The twenty-first settlement is burning.

The blackbirds must be crying.

XIII.

It was autumn all year.

Blackbirds came and went.

So did humanity.




Joanne Merriam lives in Nashville with her husband, three rabbits, and a reproduction sword. Her fiction has appeared in Escape Pod, Brain Harvest, and previously in Strange Horizons. You can find her at joannemerriam.com.
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