Latch Lock & Chain
I follow the stream into the greenwood,
Old Dozer knows the way, I smile as he
veers off, going deeper into the foliage where
a last burst of sunset falls on the brick hut,
the same I’d built alone decades ago,
crumbling now, the whitewash almost gone.
How pleased I’d been that day to add that sign,
KEEP OUT, now buried in a pile of leaves.
I should complete my mission before dark,
for the bastard’s sake, as he’ll be waiting.
At first at odds, I determine to convey
the truth, not guise it all in falsehoods.
“There’s been enough bad blood between us.
I’ll set you free, if you promise to forgive.”
From inside I hear a croak of assent.
But Dozer growls, looks at me. Whines.
“Mother hated you, she believed my lies.
The mine we co-owned was worthless,
I sold the deed to our land years ago,
and I killed that whore you fancied.”
The latch is rusted, but the lock still holds.
My key won’t work, I smash it with my torch.
With trembling hands, I free the chain.
Impossibly thin fingers claw around the door,
pushing it open a crack at a time …
— Marge Simon
Marge Simon lives in Ocala, Florida and is married to Bruce Boston. Her stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, The Pedestal Magazine, Morpheus Tales and many more. She won the Strange Horizons Readers Choice Award 2010, the Bram Stoker Award ® three times for Poetry, the Rhysling Award and the Grand Master Award from the SF Poetry Association, 2015. She has work in Chiral Mad 3 and Scary Out There, You Human. Upcoming fiction: Chiral Mad 4 2017, The Beauty of Death, 2017. www.margesimon.com
Editor’s Notes: Superimposed images of a bony hand and a rusted lock accent the tension in the poem.