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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
When Her Eyes Open 
25th-Jul-2009 05:30 pm

"When Her Eyes Open", interpreted by sweetevangeline. 11x14", clay and acrylic.


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.


"When Her Eyes Open" was first published in the much-mourned Lone Star Stories, and was reprinted in the 2009 Eaton Science Fiction Conference's speculative poetry sampler.


zarhooie is meandering around the house, taking pictures.

Kat: "Is it half over yet?"
Me: "It is half over at 9pm."
Kat: "Can it be 9pm now?"
Me: "No."
Kat: "What if I move to Singapore?"
Me: "If you can pull that off by the end of Blogathon? I would love to see that."
Kat: "Aaaaadam, can you give me a ride to the airport?"
Me: "Adam can put you on a bus."
Kat: "To Singapore?"
Me: "Yes. Take the bus to Singapore."

We make our own fun.

Another question answered!

Why do I still feel "I put myself in the situation, so it's my fault" THIS many years later? What's stopping from placing the blame where it truly belongs and letting it go?

Aii, hon. Yes. This is rough.

We always look for what we should've done. If I hadn't been wearing that, or doing this, it would not have happened, and I would have been safe.

Maybe the way to look at it is to look at situations where the survivor did nothing that you think could've been done better, nothing "wrong"? And if that happens even in those situations - there was nothing you could have done to keep it from happening to you.

It is not your fault.

But it's natural human instinct to try to find what you "did wrong". And people do it to each other, too. In lots of workshops, I encounter women who say "She shouldn't have been at that party" or "She shouldn't have worn that skirt" or whatever, and where this is coming from is a desire to feel that they themselves are safe.

Because if the survivor put themself in this situation, all the critics have to do is *not* put themselves in that situation. And so they will be safe.

Which you can see the illogic of from the outside. But it's a normal emotional self-defense thing, crappy as it is.

You didn't put yourself in that situation. Your rapist did.
25th-Jul-2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
Every single time I read this one I get chills.
(Deleted comment)
25th-Jul-2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
It may well be mine, too.

I won't try to put it more elqouently than that.
25th-Jul-2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
This is close to the question that I wanted to ask on a friend's behalf. He is still blaming himself, nearly four decades later, for not making a stink about going on a trip at age nine with the person who'd been molesting him since the age of four.

I hope he can find his own peace. Someday he may finally believe that it was not his fault.
26th-Jul-2009 12:44 am (UTC)
Powerful poem. :)

And you are always welcome to visit Singapore. I will be glad to bring you around. :)
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