“Can you see anything?”
The streets are scorched. The buildings we once inhabited are gray shells. The ashes fall lightly on me. I pretend it’s snow.
“There’s nothing to see.”
They knew they were losing, and they couldn’t tolerate us returning to our homes. First they stole our resources, then our people, now our futures.
Our son lifts a case from the rubble: Grandmama’s seed stash, overlooked in its humble box. Inside, the colorful packets aren’t even singed.
“Isn’t that something.”
“Of course I am.”
He wouldn’t take the pamphlet from her hands. She folded it to her chest.
“It’s one-way,” he said. “Why would you go?”
Her footprints in iron oxide dust; her name writ in discovery’s legacy; new stars, herself among them.
“Because,” she whispered. “It’s Mars.”
Our stars are gone. These constellations feature cryptic mythologies, strange heroes, beasts whose silicon fossils disturb our archaeologists. We located the Milky Way – a distant glimmer – but I kept searching.
There, above the rose-gold aurora: a golden pinpoint, our new North Star.
In the drafty farmhouse, there are many windows, and in winter, the aunts put a candle in each one. Their most-trod paths are marked with dripping wax like red-dash routes to buried treasure, and their windows drape the snowy night with gold.
we stay up late, shouting
across time zones so
we’re heard over gas lamps
and bull and inner voices
shouting across plates of waffles
and mugs of our enemies’ tears
to plot revenge
or just hilarity or just
She begins cleaning out the closet: on hangers, ironed blouses; in drawers, crumpled camisoles; on high shelves, plastic tubs packed with summer clothes.
She doesn’t – can’t – bring them down yet. It’s hard enough to contemplate tomorrow without her mother; summer is incomprehensible.
“It takes around two years to clear up.”
“Try more rest and icing.”
It’s been two and a half years of trying, and a trying time it’s been. Now I’m just trying to believe it won’t last forever.