Love’s Ecology

October 12, 2010

Original

Rose Lemberg was born in Ukraine, and lived in subarctic Russia and Israel before immigrating to the US, where she works as a professor of Nostalgic and Marginal Studies. Her prose and poetry have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Goblin Fruit, Unlikely Story, Daily Science Fiction, and other venues. She edits Stone Telling with Shweta Narayan. Rose has also edited two anthologies: Here, We Cross, a collection of queer and genderfluid poetry from Stone Telling (Stone Bird Press, 2012) and The Moment of Change, an anthology of feminist speculative poetry (Aqueduct Press, 2012). Rose can be found at roselemberg.net, her Livejournal blog, and on Twitter as @roselemberg.

1.
I have been free
but didn’t know myself.
I won’t be free again, but now I know

2.
Your fingers are my bread,
your eyes my wine, your body
my tender birds
your heart my meat. It rots
between my teeth. Your body
fills up with worms in which the bloated birds
find poison from their flight. Your vision blots
the surface of the sun
and drowns the earth in stench.
I’ll purify
your grief in vats of boiling milk, dissolve the years
inside the furnace in my chest, give birth to you
until the moon will cast its blindness off
until the sun is petrified
and love becomes as useless as the sun.

3.
You say I am unfaithful. Reconstruct
three feathers in my purse into a firebird lover.
He comes, you say, into my bedroom when you sleep
face mashed on keyboard keys. He comes
you say, as evening burns its entrance
upon the fireplace logs,
and thrusts his flaming tongue between my teeth.
You say
I’ve taken Sun for lover when the limpid heat
slides off the rooftops, runs a sweaty line
between my breasts.
He wraps his golden arms, you say
ray by voluptuous ray around my waist
when you’re at work in air-conditioned rooms.

4.
I have examined
my body, limb by limb – this shameful house
with its dilapidated roof. I will admit
I was the hoarder of your love –
the broken cups,
used teabags, empty toothpaste tubes and cans of soda
I never tossed, not even rotten fruit
your hand had touched,
not even dirty socks.

I hoarded clippings where your name appeared
twinned with some famous last name. I’ll admit
I stole your photograph, and covered all my ceilings
with it a thousand times. And when the roof
leaked, your repeated face
became a crowd
blue with viridian paint,
disfigured by the passage of the water
obese with fungus. Do not worry, love,
I never let the neighbors in.

You brought
moth-eaten dolls
and plastic unicorns with sagging noses
to keep me company
if you should leave. I will admit, I gained
a hundred pounds
and have no wish to lose them. No, I am not mad;
inside my body, I am shining

5.
Come, fire-
desirable to firebirds, fire
it comes, it comes,
to take, to purify
to make my home again inside this garbage heap of dreams
stuffed to the seams
with you

I have been free

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© Rose Lemberg

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