After the second bomb, the trees came to life
& women with lily pad bras crawled from
the deeps of our ornamental ponds. They wanted
to be with us when it ended. We took them in
as best as we could, digging out our air mattresses
& pushing aside our grief to boil the golden eggs
they gave in return. There was enough electricity
left to show them movies (which impressed them)
& pinball machines (which did not). Some of us
stopped getting drunk & read them picture books.
Mother Frost to the giantess whose footprints froze
our freeways. Pania of the Reef to the stone-faced
water women. Red Riding Hood to the wolves
who appeared in our gardens, though we changed it
to have a less violent conclusion. They all had a way
of pointing at the monsters in the pages & sighing.
Like asking, Is that really how you saw me? Is it?
They were no less fragile than us, these creatures,
but they seemed better used to staring down a fast
coming death. & though they were unwieldy things
we were grateful for their company—the firebirds,
the minotaur lonely in a field of cattle, the thin
blue spirits blowing through the collapsed bodies
of strip malls. It would have been nice to meet them
under different circumstances. To dance with them
around a flowery pole as though it were old times.
When the third bomb hit, they clutched us close
against their furred & scaled bellies. We watched
the oranging sky reflected in their dilated pupils
& if they perished first, it was too quick to tell.
ANNA KELLEY is pursuing an MFA in poetry at Syracuse University. She reads for Salt Hill and skates for Assault City Roller Derby. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Citron Review, Literary Orphans, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Split Lip Magazine, and others.