When Her Eyes Open
by Shira Lipkin


She runs—
feet pounding the desert,
shove off, get more momentum
harder faster
legs like pistons
half meat and half metal,
and the meat slowly cooking,
sizzling, searing
not yet not yet—

No time for goodbyes, for anything.
When the siren ripped through the station,
her clock started ticking down
to absolute zero.
No time to fight with him, to explain.

This is the thing: when you take this job,
managing a new terraforming station
on a new world,
they give you this body.
Long list of specs, but it boils down to:
you can go outside.
you can take massive acceleration
You can take all kinds of things.

They take you aside, and they tell you:
These are the risks.
And you are the failsafe.

They tell you:
if everything goes wrong,
if the shit hits the fan

it has to be you.

And you sign,
and you get your augmentation,
because it's a new world,
an adventure.
And you think,
never in a million years
will I be hugging a blown reactor,
screaming through gritted teeth,
tears evaporating,
sucking the power in
so the station doesn't explode.

You think,
I will never be running down the corridor,
past my friends, past him,
no time no time,
out the airlock
onto the scalding weirdness of this planet.


Meat is cooking fast,
charring sizzling;
she smells like dinner,
and she'd laugh if she wasn't trying not to scream.
faster faster
farther farther
impact jarring her legs where joints have seared away
running blind,
just got to get far enough away

I'm sorry

When her eyes open
the desert turns to glass.




About the Author:

Shira Lipkin lives in Boston with her husband, daughter, and three cats, most of whom also write. She has fiction and poetry in current or forthcoming issues of ChiZine, Electric Velocipede, Polu Texni, and Cabinet des Fees. You can track her movements at shiralipkin.com.




Poem © 2009 Shira Lipkin. Photo by David Shankbone, 2007.