The dust really believes it knows us. The blanket of her
orange breathiness wraps around each finger and tooth.
We are sick children; the dust, our dying mother.
It’s so hot, everything sticks to everything.
Even the woodpeckers are glued to the sky. The copperheads,
to the chipping driveway, melting before each noon.
We’ve had our windows and blinds closed tight for
days, maybe weeks. Now the sun wants us gone.
Look at this film! All this pollution!—cry the neighbors
who know nothing about the sun’s misery. They point up
towards the dirty red. They point up towards the hole
where our star should be. They shield their eyes out of
habit. I’m a terrible neighbor. I say, Is there a fire somewhere?
knowing there’s no fire. The dust lets herself sleep soundly
on our houses and in our chicken coops. You could live
anywhere, I say to the sun. Why so far? Blink fast enough:
you’ll see bright pops of electricity against the darkness
of your own body. Open your eyes. The light that once
flooded us is being swallowed elsewhere, glint by glint.
About the Author
Tamara L. Panici's work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Mom Egg Review, BARNHOUSE, saltfront, The American Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar Quarterly, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2018 River Styx Microfiction Contest. She lives in DC and is expecting her first child.