Abyss & Apex : Second Quarter 2005 : Kingdom of Dust and Steel

Kingdom of Dust and Steel

byYoon Ha Lee

From their small dark
holes, mice rule the underground
kingdom where people travel
wrapped in steel upon
steel rails.

When the train barrels through
the tunnels, it screeches
the owl’s warning cry.
Mice know. They have had
mouse generations to
learn what owls sound like when
they fly upon rails. They have learned to
hide in the dust.

They have also learned to
listen to people dreams. The dreams
are grey, like the mice.
It cannot be helped. Everything
becomes grey if it lives
underground long enough,
nourished in dust and darkness.

People wait upon the grey
platforms for grey
trains while grey
dust swallows their grey
words and carries them to the mice,
the long-waiting mice, the all-knowing
mice, the fast-breeding mice.



Yoon Ha Lee’s fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Lenox Avenue; her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, and Star*Line. She lives in Washington state with her family. 


Copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted.


Art Director: Bonnie Brunish

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