In the beginning, hands come down,
fingers missiles, circled together to hold, the point
of all of this and crash land against her
face of the moon.
Right on the crater of her cheek.
Then they spider out, skitter and
caress, fingers relaxing,
cupping the cheek like an explosion holds the ground, holds
the space in the room.
Over and over her voice repeats
“the moon the moon”. I nod.
She is luminescent above us, that dim rock, hovering.
The high-rise room sags with ancient treasures, it smells of salt,
greening copper, patina,
all surfaces covered in sharp
edges to catch, intricate flower petals of metal.
There is a fireplace dusted in tree branches,
loaded with icicles. The twigs climb up, the brick climbs
down and all of it is red, blood and ice.
They look at me and say
“It's the sort of thing that'll love you then bite.
You shouldn't trust rust to hold you.” I nod,
take two steps away.
Elsewhere, we get into a Volkswagen Beetle,
red, its back a low slope to the ground,
a car we’ve never seen before.
The license plate is all sevens.
Out the window my sister hunches her back, a bomber jacket she doesn’t own
clings to her small broad shoulders.
She marches away from us, white glow against a black parking lot.
My mother drives away. I pull the door closed and
my mother drives away. My sister turns at the sound and sees us and
my mother drives away. She starts walking, running, sprinting, after us
but we’re already gone my mother
pulls out into the street and I only see her as
a red figure
in between two walls of colorless brick.
In the high-rise, the room slides out of the building,
a shoebox stack collapsing, two hands letting go.
The tiny people inside crouch, brittle fingers splayed
against the dark wood floor. The room hits the asphalt and they jerk with a slight rattle.
No one is hurt. No one is the same.
It is the end of the world, but only just.
Families load into buses, reunite
just to part again. They cling to each other, whisper
I love you, sigh as the buildings fall.
By then it’s all of us holding hands in the bus station,
two by two into the arcs like Noah.
Each of the round metal bodies we board are bloated
like our unknown final destination or a whale
The night is black sky, dust, the smell of ash and bitter
vinegar on our tongues. It is red coats and collars
up against the rain and tail lights bouncing off the puddles.
Looking off to the side catching sight of
someone you knew or loved once. Not saying anything.
They are in another line to someplace else.
It is all of us in the splash zone, waiting
for the sting of the water or someone to tell us
what we're meant to do now.
Mariel Tishma is a creative writer trying to prove that she really is a successful human being, and not three red squirrels inside a human shaped coat. She’s been published at Syntax and Salt, The Artifice, and Fickle Muses. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking dinner for parties of 5 or less and pointing out dogs on the street. See more at marieltishma.com