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In the country, they burned all of you.
Croppers, with their electric fences and silos and shotguns.
In the city, we weren't so smart.
When your people came down from the stars
we put you in jails and cellars and basements,
but we let you live.
You, I let live.
At first you yanked at the knob, desperate.
Now you scratch it out of habit.
The stars have evaporated.
What’s that about, I wonder?
You won’t tell me.
I lean against the closet that’s become yours.
Through the broadening
crack beneath the door,
your light leaks around me
pulsing, pulsing
as if coming from a severed vein.
Please, please. Your voice
is like static, the echo and whine
of a canticle coming
in and out of focus, the station
not quite right. Please.
After all I’ve said, is that the only word
you know? You know,
I’m trapped too.
Can’t just walk out of this apartment.
I pass the time getting drunk and watching
your brethren, fiends in the streets, blood staining
their throats. Their voices
mellifluous and beautiful.
Limbs stretched and translucent, silhouettes
flaring bright as glass
melting in a kiln, repeatedly
reshaping themselves.
A grace and a terror
to behold.
The world has done this to you, not me.
Some promise must have been broken
between your lord and mine.
Please, you ask again, pressing against the door.
I can feel the heat seeping through the wood,
your face so close to mine.
At the bottom of the door
where you are making the hole
a petal of burnt ash
drifts away.
I wonder how long it will take
for you to reshape a gap
large enough for you
to come out.
Will you let me live.

You don’t tell me.
Just a scratching, please.



Laura Cranehill lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner and two sons. She wrote "We Let You Live" in the beginning of 2020 as a sci-fi poem, but after being tear-gassed repeatedly in the streets with her fellow brethren, she's not so sure how speculative it is anymore. She's published under different aliases in multiple venues, including Abyss & Apex, Eye to the Telescope, and Eclectica Magazine.
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23 Nov 2020

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