Copyright © 2020 Otis Nebula Press. All rights reserved.

Phantom Mother

When the children are gone

to their dad’s or grandparent’s or wherever

the air in the house is stilled, no atoms

in flux over robots and horses and Ninja Turtles.

They’re coming back, this time.

Sometime in the future they won’t,

not really, and we’ll live in stasis,

waiting for holiday visits, not sure what to do

with the unfiltered oxygen encasing only us.

When they go I’ll still be there

like a mother under a curtain

in a 19th century photo,

holding her infants still, faced forward,

hands unseen directing the shot

reminding her children when to speak

and when to hold their tongues.

Future City

A name that evokes

an alien race living in silver towers

is instead a small lot of houses

with caved in roofs

the shell of a dinner club

roads to nowhere, existing

on the other side of the railroad bridge

separate and far from equal

there is a hush as we walk through

as if surrounded by ghosts

as if we’d stumbled into Brigadoon

instead of mid Illinois

Rage, Rage

The darkness of anesthesia

brightens to pain at the count of three

as I am lifted from one bed to another

and hear a familiar voice but cannot

focus to see the one speaking

words that sound like goodbye.

I am still too far gone to care.

Reach for a lonely hand, squeeze,

and fall back into an angry nap

confused, pushed back to a time

before the brain could perceive

anything but danger. Death.

Later, I’ll forget the desperation

for ice chips and consciousness,

the longing for an easy nap.

Awake finally to true dark, the night sky

over an empty parking garage,

stars reflecting off the hospital bed.

Triin Paja

Helen Broom lives and writes in Michigan.