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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