Abyss & Apex : Fourth Quarter 2005


by Jennifer Crow

I. Massalia

So long as my heart lies barren
No rain shall fall. The vines mock me
With their wide leaves, turning
With every breath of wind. I hate them
For their bounty, curse them
For the blossoms and the fruit.

So let the clouds flee
And the world bake
Under an unforgiving sun. Let the heat
Etch my skin, until I crack
And wither without
As I have within.

Until I die, let my hands
Be given to rooting out life
Until my palms bleed
From the thorns and rough stems.

Love abandoned me, so I will destroy
And make hope a desolation
And a mockery. I will sit
With dry eyes and watch
Even the carrion birds
Fall from the sky. I will hold
The last fish as it sloughs its scales
On my fingers.
I will crush the last cocoon
Under my heel, and then
I will lie down for the last time.

So be it.

II. Ruslan

Abandoned? (Love, after all
Is naught but an ending
Wrapped in a beginning.)
Of course I left, unbearable
Smothering hand clutched
At my heart, at my throat—
Who wouldn’t leave that?
(Only a child expects eternity,
Only a fool burns
At the injustice of boredom.)

Truth has a way of turning
Its blade back on the one
Who wields it, and I paid
(she saw to it—too late I recognized
The power in her, the unyielding
Rock at her core. Passion never touched
It—true feeling broke
On that stone and only hate remained—
Hate: dry, unquenchable,
Empty of life).

My choice, Massalia’s poison gift:
A captive life, or a brief
Freedom watching the world die.
I took the latter (selfish—
I never claimed otherwise—
But true to the end, true to myself).
My secret I took to the grave—
The cache of seeds, the kernels
Nestled under my ribs. I planted
Them myself at the end,
When my tongue cleaved
To the roof of my mouth,
My lips cracking, too dry to bleed.
How easily the knife slipped
Into dying flesh. Only a few heartbeats
Left to tell my tale (the mark
Of a true bard, saving the best tale
For last).

III. Green

Secrets dig
Tender, slender
To the moist reaches
The need, the food
A stretching
A reaching
No eye to see
The leaf unfurl

Life finds
A crack, a crevice
A shadowy place
Where water gathers

Life keeps
Under the sun’s eye
Under soil
Under stone
Beneath notice
As it digs deep

Life wins
Trumps, triumphs
Stubborn roots
Seeking, breaking

The rains will come



Shy and nocturnal, Jennifer Crow has never been photographed in the wild. However, you can catch up with her work in recent issues of Mythic Delirium, Star*Line, Strange Horizons and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry


Copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted.


Art Director: Bonnie Brunish

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