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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