When Her Eyes Open

In September 2008, I did one of my frequent collaborations with Kythryne Aisling of Wyrding Studios. We solicited prompts from our readers… and every weekday, I wrote something and she created a piece of jewelry based on the same prompt. We had lots of fun – Kyth’s a great collaborator, a very gifted artist, and a good friend!

“When her eyes open, the desert turns to glass” was a prompt I’d been saving for late in the month. Kythryne and I both loved it and felt we could do something great with it, but I had no idea *what*. I deliberately wanted to avoid anything about atomic bombs, because I know Ellen Klages covered that brilliantly in “The Green Glass Sea”.

One day, in the shower, I had the mental image that started it all – running, the sensation of running for your life… or someone else’s…

I wrote the poem and sent it to Kythryne; she went into what she called a fugue state as she twisted tektite and glass into a gorgeous swirl of glow-in-the-dark wire to mirror the poem.

When Her Eyes Open
When Her Eyes Open

You can read “When Her Eyes Open” at Lone Star Stories, where it was published in February 2009.

(It was only recently pointed out to me how autobiographical this poem is. Overwhelmed Shira is overwhelmed.)

“When Her Eyes Open” was reprinted in the 2009 Eaton Science Fiction Conference’s speculative poetry sampler, and was nominated for the Rhysling Award.


Charles Tan of Bibliophile Stalker says: “”When Her Eyes Open” by Shira Lipkin is a poem with a clear narrative and it’s that aspect that I was drawn to. In so few lines, Lipkin conveys character and dramatic tension. That’s not to say it’s not devoid of other qualities such as apt metaphors and stylized repetition but it’s the previous qualities that makes this my favorite poem.”

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz of The Fix says: “Shira Lipkin’s “When Her Eyes Open” is a poem that tells a story. Lipkin uses language with efficiency to convey the dire straits of her heroine. There are some startlingly beautiful lines here, not the least of which are these last two:

When her eyes open
the desert turns to glass.”

Deborah Brannon at Stone Telling says: “”When Her Eyes Open” by Shira Lipkin is a hardcore sci-fi poem that hits all the sweet spots between the emotional interior and the material science.”

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