Medusa

Edited by Julia Rios

April 2019

Listen to this story, narrated by C.S.E. Cooney:

a hundred angers sprouted from my head like snakes
it was not safe to cross the border
it was not safe to live like that

so I cut them off one by one
the anger of being bereft the anger of being alone
the anger of not being alone the anger of feeling alone while not being alone
the anger of losing my language the anger of language loosening its hold
the anger of stones the anger of blisters of parched lips
the anger of never feeling better the anger of medical trauma the anger of never measuring up – I snipped

anger after anger from my head and I wanted
to be pristine I wanted to feel clarity I wanted self-improvement I wanted a steady salary
I wanted to pass I wanted a place to live I wanted a place to hide
I wanted not to be bothered I wanted to be where it’s quiet

they said this was a place of peace they said to wait for my anger to fall off on its own
they said there’s no reason to be angry they said calm down it’s safe here and I
believed

I pushed from silence to speech
stitched old wounds that gave birth to my speech
threw out old words in the language that shaped me threw out old words in a language in which I refused myself
one by one my angers were shredded away
one by one the angers grew back

the anger of losing my way the anger of finding out how this country was shaped
the anger of finding out where I was a thin layer of ground over stifled histories a thin layer of ground over mass graves
the anger of being afraid of darkness the anger of being afraid of large men of large dogs
the anger of being afraid the anger of being underpaid the anger of stalkers
the anger of my words that replaced the words I was trying to speak so tentatively in my own language

the anger of having the wrong name the anger of not having a name
the anger of wanting to leave the anger of having nowhere else to go the anger of wanting to belong

I could not speak anymore I forgot the voice I had found so laboriously
I cut the anger tendrils off
I cut and cut I cut until the anger was gone until I

stopped
and there was nothing

blessed silence where anger had been
fall leaves falling on the ground

for a few brief moments until

they caught up with me
crying we did not know crying we did not think it would get this bad
crying no more safe no more refuge crying terrified we did not know
disbelieving squinting at unlearned histories spilling from the earth
a hundred angers on their heads a thousand angers a hundred thousand angers an army of Medusas
snipping

and I felt
depleted I
no longer felt like anything
no anger, no voice, no speech, nothing
one step ahead

© 2019 Rose Lemberg

About the author

Rose Lemberg

Rose Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel to the US. Their writing has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, and many other venues. Rose’s work has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards. Their novella The Four Profound Weaves is forthcoming from Tachyon Press. You can find more of their work on Patreon: http://patreon.com/roselemberg

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