Poetry Month


Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions featured on the site throughout the month. Bookmark the Poetry Month index for easy reading.

On this Easter Sunday we display a decidedly un-Easter-ish poem from Jo Walton, “Nemi,” originally published in the author’s LiveJournal here.

Did you get the feeling
that he would have wanted
the kind of thing anyone
could have said?
Did you guess when he gave you
the wine by the olives,
so seriously sharing
his grandmother’s bread?

You know that a story
is open to answers
you know that a question
is open to lies
did you think with your head or just with your body
as the sun warmed the courtyard
you looked with surprise —
there was somebody’s shadow
and somebody answered
the question you asked
with a flick of your eyes
did you think that he wanted you
open to offers
as you sat and ate bread in your perfect disguise?

You’re the answer to questions that nobody’s asking
an open-shut case, no appeal, white and black,
disturbing the distance that time cannot challenge
remixing desires they would much rather lack…
and answers need questions
and stories lie open
and lies keep you turning
to follow the track
your dark eyes half-closed as
you reach for the wineglass
and that’s when he says
that you always came
always came
always came back.

But everything questions,
you know that he wants you,
the bread and the sun and the shade of the vine
but who was the shadow
and who was the sunlight
who drank and who offered and who poured the wine?
It never resolves as
it endlessly circles
the ask and the offer
in garlanded time
the hand from the darkness
the lions and lizards
the king in the trees
and the breath of divine.


“Nemi” copyright © Jo Walton

Photo © John W. MacDonald


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