S. Qiouyi Lu

I throw myself into your embrace, Death Valley;
your painted curves rise against the horizon, and I dip into
your navel, taste the waters that pool there: salt on my tongue,
salt slick against my fingers; salt and salt and more salt.

Badwater, I want to rough my hands against you,
feel you pressing against my knees, kiss your every crest
until I'm full with the flavor of you, until I feel you, delicate,
crumbling beneath me--

No, not crumbling: I see how your other lovers
have trampled you, ravished you, left pilgrims' prints
on you, left you barren, smooth;

You deserve better. Not crumbling, but trembling, your
filament crusts of salt shivering in the wind of my breath,
your skin not smooth but rising with goosebumps;

I want to go deep within you, deep, past the trampled parts of you,
until I can savor your ridges, lap at the basins in every cell of you,
find your secret waters and make the earth beneath you sigh.

Badwater! I will run my tongue against every hollow of you
until my lips glitter with the taste of  you, until the sun sets
and its rays plunge across us both, the stars our witness,
the Milky Way your only rival;

Badwater, I will curl myself into one of your curves,
fall asleep against you, rise as the morning sun caresses us both,
still tasting salt
		 and salt
			    and glorious salt.

S. Qiouyi Lu is a writer, artist, translator, and narrator whose poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons and Uncanny, among others. A dread member of the queer Asian SFFH Illuminati, S. enjoys destroying speculative fiction in their spare time. Find them online at or on Twitter as @sqiouyilu.