Five Stars Fell
by Samantha Henderson
Five stars fell burning,
Screaming into a greedy sea
(Jehoadan, beautiful beyond imagining, and Gihon, of wild song),
Plunged, and the waters boiled around them,
Sank deep into the mud below,
Slept for a million years and more
(Tatnai, who sees into the nature of things, and Asa,
whose god was numbers).
None saw them fall, each concerned only with the business
—who was eating whom—
Within the borders of his own particular puddle
(Eliezer, mischief-maker, the only one,
who remembered why they fell).
A million years, two million,
The mud rose, and dried, and cracked, and sank,
And again was mud,
And rose again. Something,
Whose great-grandfather to the nth degree
Crawled out of a puddle, looked at a stone,
Looked at a stick, and a bit of dried dung,
And had a thought.
Tatnai hatched then,
Out of the soft rock, and Gihon with him,
Jehoadan, whose lovely scars,
Wrote a story on her face. Asa, counting the grains, broke too,
Out of her nest of slate, and Eliezer, grinning like a fool,
Something looked at them,
Went mad, went screaming to its fellows,
Who held it down, stroked its fur, and slit its throat.
That night, Something Else sat by the cooling body,
Whose blood was drunk with love and had a thought,
A tiny thought: the word holy.
Something Else went wandering
Through the tall grass where the many-legs went,
and there it met Tatnai,
Who smiled and crouched beside it, and told it, yes,
There you have it, holy,
Sit by the water and think on it.
Tatnai met the exiles,
Beside the oblong holes where they had hatched from stone—
Gihon humming, Jehoadan fingering her scars, Asa scowling
At Eliezer, who grinned back—
And told them there,
Now it is begun.
Samantha Henderson lives in Southern California with her family and Bogie, the Nihilistic Corgi. Her work can be seen online at Strange Horizons, Ideomancer, The Fortean Bureau, Neverary and The Spectravaganza. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish