Those Patient Jaws, Like Water

Time travel as an imaginative exercise.

Piercy hugs her friends, her true family, a dozen smiling heterogeneous faces. Hugin, just back from the front, fifteen and gangly, pink with new scars. They’re having to regrow her aural nerves, victims of a dozen screamer shells; she smiles and waves gentle hands, too shy to speak. Those hands have killed half a dozen; she is a gentle child, half a woman.

Munin, too; fat blob of veteran’s babe nursing at one hairy breast. He too has served his time: ten years at least to win a second child. Peloton, first born and reedy, hides behind his father. Munin; the name means memory. He tells no stories of the war, of the desert that the wind whips into scythe blades, of shells that turn sand to glass, of the rage the survivors bury at the front.

And more: Isla, artist’s child, who sings colors. Gomer the architect, the fricatrice, his hands smeared with mushroom trace. They blur together; happy whirl of coming home.

“Welcome,” says Joan, the best-beloved. “You have fought through and found your place among us. Sit, now, and rest.”