The Doorway

The water is cold, up to my neck.
Like Virginia, my pockets are full of black stones.
I bend my knees, and I am six again;
holding my breath in the swimming pool to see how long I last,
staring up at the upside down world underneath water
the sky as green as a dream of a country beneath the sea.
Slowly, I am learning not to breathe.

It is quiet, here where the water is silver on my eyes.
I have been waiting for this—away from all the noise
all this talk of a God who does not answer me when I accuse him
of rigging the game against me from my very birth.
I have been hoping to escape him; I have other places to be
and there is only one door that reliably goes.

Overhead the view is turning into stars.
This was my commandment: “in what way that seems best to you”—
well, I have always wanted to sink down to where my other ancestors are
where the fish sing funerary songs among the tombs of the dead
where the green hills bloom with algae and the towers still dance.
I have heard that men go mad, looking for the place
where the angels struck their ancestors down in a chasm of water and fire.

I see him diving in like a fish; sleek and black, so swiftly—
I am already mostly dead, and do not bother to fight him as he grabs me.
The stars are fading; sound re-entering the world that was so still.
I shall never see the towers now.
I cannot reckon how he found me; I was so quiet and so very alone.

He pounds my chest until I heave; his will is stronger than mine, even now.
I wanted just one dream of death—one taste of the country to which I cannot go.
But even dreaming, he will not let me rest, but makes my weak-willed heart beat again.
Do not leave me, he says, you cannot leave me—

I wake alone, all dry, in the bed where I spend all my dreaming.
In another, star-dusted country, dripping, the Captain spits sea water
though he is miles from the shore, and tries to shake off the cold.
The droplets fall wet like tears across the boundary we were never meant to cross.
I only wanted to be where you are, I say—
though we cannot possibly hear each other, he says: I know.





mirovLev Mirov is a queer, disabled, Filipino-American medievalist, who lives with his wife, fellow writer India Valentin, and their two cats in rural Maryland, where he feeds the ghosts of Antietam when it rains. His poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award and featured in Strange Horizons, Liminality Magazine, and Through the Gate, as well as other magazines and anthologies. To read more of his magical worlds, his medieval research, and forthcoming speculative fiction, visit or follow him on twitter @thelionmachine.

Latest Issue

Issue 82

More In This Issue