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Eight Dwarfs on Planet X

The men, all seven of them,

grab their pickaxes and bid me goodbye.

Good luck, I say, mechanical as their tools.

Take care, artificial as ambient lighting.

They go out there to build humanity a home

and here I stay, tending to our own dwelling.

(Haven’t you read the stories?

Isn’t that how these things always go?)

The men cut their palms open against

savage diamonds twice their size.

I wait back in our capsule—cottage—

with antiseptic gauze and 

nanite healing cream,

with red-lipped kisses that 

make everything better.

Concentrated purée in apple pies, stale flour,

bent tines of my fork stabbing holes in crust

the way the men, all seven, stab the ground.

They terraform rough landscape for future 

settlers, or so our boss—the Queen—has

said. I put my whole body into kneading,

sweat dripping from my brow, into

pies arranged across the gritty work-

bench, salt of my labor seeping 

into sweetened dough.

Everything smells sweet here

and sulfuric, like rotten apple cores.

I sing to the men, all seven, hushing 

their anger, direct it away from the 

boss’s mining—the Queen’s—terraforming

even if I’m the sole remaining path.

I scrub dough from under my nails,

apply ruddy rouge to cheeks

whose paleness will never again

be kissed by sunlight. The men

need you, the Evil Queen said.

Who would bandage their diamond wounds,

tend to their needs, keep them calm,

complacent, industrious,

if it weren’t for you?

(Little girl, don’t you know no ship

is coming to take you back to Earth?)

Pickaxes, all lined up by capsule door.

I hold one in my hands, testing its heft,

imagine digging like the men, all seven, do.

Digging myself into the ground: 

a rough, slumbering gem.

I keep going until I fall 

through the planet’s crust and core,

until I land back home, 

or float through the cosmos.

Avra Margariti is a queer author, Greek sea monster, and Rhysling-nominated poet with a fondness for the dark and the darling. Avra’s work haunts publications such as Vastarien, Asimov’s, Liminality, Arsenika, The Future Fire, Space and Time, Eye to the Telescope, and Glittership. The Saint of Witches, Avra’s debut collection of horror poetry, is available from Weasel Press. You can find Avra on Twitter: @avramargariti.

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