Reap the Whirlwind

by Rose Lemberg
The music that bespelled the nightingale
to sing two songs—one for all other mortals, one for lovers
revealed its heart to me—

come, my beloved,

the wind will break the windows of your fear,
the wind is tame and knows no fear

Inside my garden roses wilt
wrapped by the night
in shroud of desert heat—they say
that cursed is knowledge, that the wind
brings evil tidings—yet I yearn to know

the seas you sail

the smell of tar

the words

you say to others—

love, return to me,

my wind-harp begs a voice

The emptiness

between the harp strings 

sharpens nights
with silence

Listen, northeast wind:

I bond my breath with silver-daggered air,

and southeast wind: I bond my breath with rue;

if you do not

come swift to me with tidings, wind,

I’ll wake the harp with my own voice, and tell

the pearl to cease its shining, 

talk the turquoise

out of the sun-scorched earth—I’ll raise my face 

to face the sky, I’ll spill

the moon down


Southwest wind, I beg

sweep my beloved into my arms—

The wind

the wind
the southeast wind returns



rotting seaweed breath

the smell of tar—and pride—and sandalwood 

the smell of him

beyond my garden walls. 

He said,

forget what was.
forget me.
find another.”

Forget you? No, beloved,
I cast two shadows:
one for all other men, and one for you.

Come, sand,

a thousand sandgrains in my twisting sleeves

come wail my dance

I’ll dance twin ragged storms

the arms to hold you to me,



into the seastorm, 

sand to veil the sea

and wake the strings—

I’ve woken

this harp,

this heart

that had been throttled for so long—

Abandon me? Oh no, beloved, 

I speak two voices—

one is the rose that wilts in loveliness

behind my garden walls,

and one

this mighty roar

that will return you to me
for all of time— 

and you

and you

and you

reap the whirlwind

Rose Lemberg was born on the outskirts of the former Hapsburg empire. She received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and now works as a professor of Nostalgic and Marginal Studies somewhere in the Midwest. Her office is a cavern without windows. When nobody’s watching, the walls glint with diamonds or perhaps tears, and fiddlers dance inside the books. Rose’s short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons and Fantasy Magazine, and her poetry in Goblin Fruit, Jabberwocky, Apex, Mythic Delirium, and GUD, among other venues. She edits Stone Telling, a new magazine of boundary-crossing poetry.

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