One Way or Another

by Sonya Taaffe

So you might imagine the appearance of Death,
the dark apologetic angel
with a tired accent
crossing your threshold in his traveler's coat
as if it were his own,
his face the one that lights from weariness to see you,
his voice the one you call out to hear, coming home.
The destroying angel is kinder:
she offers no illusions,
nothing but the silence after the credits
or the smash cut to black.
The debt she holds over you
you have been paying since first you drew breath.
He assumed the worth of your life
when he bartered his own against it,
the dark city's emissary
turned knight in an armor of splintered glass.
Death who gets the best of all bargains
shook her head and took him anyway.


Sonya Taaffe's short fiction and poetry can be found in the collections Ghost Signs (Aqueduct Press), A Mayse-Bikhl (Papaveria Press), Postcards from the Province of Hyphens (Prime Books), and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books), and in various anthologies including The Humanity of Monsters, Genius Loci: Tales of the Spirit of Place, and Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror. She is currently senior poetry editor at Strange Horizons; she holds master's degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object. She lives in Somerville with her husband and two cats.

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