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Repentant


Repentant
by Sandi Leibowitz

The first time I destroyed the world,
I wept.
Who knew a world could be so fragile?
I hadn’t meant it, not really.
It was just a gesture, a flaming hand-swipe. 
After, wings folded,
I sat down in a valley amongst the burnt bodies,
I sat where the grass had once grown green,
I sat in the blackened sand
and wept.

And my tears became rivers.
I laughed at their currents,
their tickling rush,
and forgot a little how sorry I’d been,
it was such fun to play in the rippling waves.
But there are other things to do, other worlds
to tend to or unmake.
I left, letting the water
ungrieve the world.

Next time I visited,
I found the grass re-grown,
cities rebuilt over the bones
of the immolated cattle.
I wept to see the world
restored, phoenix-perfect.
Wept too much.
I paid no mind to how
the rivers swelled their banks,
met with the seas,
and churned the world
to water.  In moments
everything tasted of salt.
That was the second time.

Fixing that took a while.
I hated seeing all those white
and bloated bodies floating
in my pure waters.
First the cleaning,
what a chore.
Then the drying,
what a bore,
calling up twin suns
and setting out the winds
to fan the place to some
semblance of respectability.
When it came clean and green at last,
I went off, leaving you, my children,
to it.

The third time was on purpose.
You annoyed me.
Some of you were noisy.
I didn’t like what you decided to call music. 
You invented stupid things.
A bit of praising, choruses resounding with
not my name (which you don’t know) but
thanks or fear in pretty temples
would have gone a long way
to improving my mood.
And you were mighty messy.
I took it out on the world,
which was wrong of me,
I must admit,
for what were the sins
of the leopards?
The dugongs were utterly guileless
and the corals’ poetry well-wrought.

Still, I cannot unstomp
my foot.  It’s done this time.
My little ball’s too crumpled
to roll right.
It’s an untidy business,
godding, not for the faint of heart. 
Next world, I think,
I’ll people with giraffes,
whale-sharks and centipedes,
respectful folk.
Next time
I’ll try to be

more careful.

* * *

Sandi Leibowitz has been the Sands Point Hag, an editorial assistant for a medical magazine, a classically-trained singer, a fundraiser ghostwriting for a Monsignor, and a school librarian. In addition to collecting degrees and bits of Victoriana, she writes speculative fiction and poetry, which may be found in Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, Strange Horizons, Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year vol. 5, and Metastasis, an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry about cancer. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net award.

What inspires you to write and keep writing?

I have always loved words. I was the nerdy kid who relished English assignments like making up sentences that used a given list of adjectives. As a pre-teen and teen I used to type out favorite poems and passages from novels on my mother's old manual typewriter. I love the look and sound of words, the way they can move you to tears, incite you to anger, or simply render you breathless. I have always loved story. And I have always wanted to be a writer. It is indeed hard, sometimes, to keep at writing. I'm beginning to publish a fair amount but it wasn't always so (and in fairness, I didn't submit much; it was hard enough to find the time to write!). Even so, the rewards are not life-changing. People do not toss roses before my feet as I stroll down the street. I don't even think they do that for the likes of J.K. Rowling or Steven King. What keeps me going is the desire to write the sorts of things I'd like to read--to give the inner dreams life and maybe even wings.

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