Eight Dwarfs on Planet X
by Avra Margariti
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,
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.