Abyss & Apex : Third Quarter 2007: The First Stranger

The First Stranger

Kristine Ong Muslim



He was not claiming to be the messiah.
“Think of me as a door–to–door salesman,”
he said, “with things to offer—most of them
you do not need.”

He smiled. His faded
jeans, wrinkled; his face,
shaved clean, reeked
of gasoline when he leaned closer.
I opened the door,
let him in.

He came from another place, insisted
that he could tweak our eyes so we could
see much better. I believed him;
he had brought my next–door neighbor
back to life.

“You are beautiful creatures,” he went on,
“only limited. But I can help you with your vision,
make you see things beyond your visible range.”

And he did. It only hurt when he grazed
the optic nerves. He said that pain was all right,
that it could not exist in the memory,
that it was just there for the moment.

He told me to open my eyes, and all I saw
was darkness. “You blinded me,”
I said. “No,” he said, chuckled.
“Look closely. There are certain colors
interspersed with the black.”

Filmy, mottled swatches shifted
across the blackness.
All the colors were unfamiliar,
unnatural yet they looked as if
they had always existed.

And, oh, how the darkness sang.




More than 450 of Kristine Ong Muslim’s poems and stories have appeared or are forthcoming in over 150 publications worldwide. Her work has appeared in Aoife’s Kiss, Astropoetica, Black Ink Horror, Coyote Wild, Down in the Cellar, The Fifth Di, Kaleidotrope, Not One of Us, OG’s Speculative Fiction, Spinning Whorl, Starline, Sybil’s Garage, and Tales of the Talisman. She is a two-time winner of Sam’s Dot Publishing’s James Award for genre poetry.



Poem © 2007 Kristine Ong Muslim. All other content copyright © 2007 ByrenLee Press 


Copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted.


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