Shahrazad Spoils the Coffee

by Sofia Samatar

When the woman with tired eyes
stares too long at the carpet,
the cof­fee boils over
and hiss­es on the coals.
Her hand in the gloom
moves slow­ly as a stormcloud
drift­ing over the vio­lence of the sea.

The king sleeps in the bed.
Out­side, beyond the curtains,
Dam­as­cus ros­es fat­ten in the sun.
In the bot­tom of the cof­fee pot
a tiny ship circles,
the sailors mak­ing round mouths of woe.

The cap­tain, in his cabin,
scrawls the last notes in his log,
and tucks his pen into his sash beside his dagger.
He knows that the sea is boiling,
that the sky is as black as coffee,
and that this will be his last night on earth.

Sofia Samatar is a fan­ta­sy writer, poet, and crit­ic, and a PhD can­di­date in African Lan­guages and Lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son. Her poet­ry has appeared in a num­ber of places, includ­ing Stone Telling, Gob­lin Fruit, Strange Hori­zons and Bull Spec. Her debut nov­el, A Stranger in Olon­dria, is forth­com­ing from Small Beer Press in 2013.

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