Stranger Organs


Think a kitchen knife, cold enough, old enough

to sever the knots of night. Then take away the hilt

take away the blade. Leave only the gleam.

This is your knife. And when they say let go, when they say enough

your palms will feel your knife—like fingers, like air—

and say no. 



Your river learns from the aspen grove.

It has distance and in its distance it holds swans for safekeeping. 

Your river is a voice and it is saying the river 

the river

the river is a voice and it is saying the river

the river 

the river is a voice and it is saying the river

the river

the river is a voice and it is saying—

The world breaks it in half, spills its blood

but inside your river is only more river.



Your torch dreams

the redwood, the wildfire.

In the dusk the fox is first a shadow

slipping over gnarled root.

Before your eyes adjust, your torch 

knows the fur, the swift dark fire.

The fox’s eye a lantern, and in its pupil

your torch alight.



Sure, your cup will yield

to your torch or your knife.

Your river with its hoard of swans

shines finer in the sun. Your cup is nothing really.

A dull unconsecrated shape, a dusty no-thing

that will make no money at auction. 

It’s just a wine-slackened mouth 

that ever flows with praise. Just a wound

welling with garnets. Just snowmelt

in the river gyred with sewage. Just

scarred hands gone unbeautiful with time. Just

scarred hands shaking. Just scarred hands

joined together, shaking. Just these scarred hands

flowering with sapphires.


Shaoni C. White writes and researches speculative fiction and poetry. Their poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fantasy Magazine, smoke and mold, Channel Magazine, and Vastarien, and their short fiction has appeared in Uncanny Magazine and PodCastle. Raised in Southern California, they are currently working toward a BA in English Literature and Linguistics at Swarthmore College. Find them at or on Twitter at @shaonicwhite.

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

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