THE ROYAL DOORS, by Eliza Victoria

You fold your hands
and talk of your sorrows.
That is the only way to get through the day
these days and the only way to get through the door.
Oak and birch, painted silver, as large as a cathedral
and just as heartless and empty.
A face appears to deal with you.
Blue-lidded, cheeks ashen-gold.
Hello, you say, mindful of the woman to your right
who had just been turned away, her children missing,
the castle claiming lack of resources for a search party.
You say,There are two kinds of soldiers.
One who wants the war to end, and one who doesn’t.
One steps on the battlefield in the morning
in order to go home to his family at night.
And that one often fails to go home.
All I want is a quiet life inside a quiet home
but I have been told
that my dreams are too small.
And so my son left, and tomorrow I will bury him.
Now I try to live my quiet life in my quiet home,
instead of fighting the kingdom
that sent him to his death,
and I am told
I am a coward.
I just want the war to end, but I know that is too big
a plea from someone who did not go to University
and does not understand the complexity of our politics,
the need of kingdoms to bargain and compromise.
But I tell you: every item in my house, every toad light,
every moth curtain, every katydid bell,
is like a bomb waiting to explode.
And so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
The door-face speaks, after a silence as brief

as an arrow’s trajectory,

The kingdom thanks your family
for your service, but the King
cannot give you audience at this time.
Beside you a door swings open
for a man loudly arguing for better shops
in the city ports.
Of course, you say, turning away,
the King is a busy man.


Eliza Victoriais the author of several books including Dwellers(2014), Project 17(2013), A Bottle of Storm Clouds(2012), and the self-published collection Unseen Moon(2013). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in several online and print publications, including Daily Science Fiction, Stone Telling, Room Magazine, Story Quarterly, The Pedestal Magazine, High Chair, and the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthologies. Her work has won prizes in the Philippines’ top literary awards, including the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards. A story of hers (“Dan’s Dreams”) is included in The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2013, featuring the best young adult stories from around the world.

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