In Other Months

In other months, I’d watch for transports
on the launch pad beyond the ridge
and I’d imagine a bloom of silver ships,
innumerable as wildflowers,
spiked skyward and preparing to launch.
I’d brave air raid sirens to look for them,
certain their appearance,
just beyond our once-secure camp,
with its families and interplanetary refugees
huddled in tents and flimsy ‘temporary’ huts,
would mean an off-world ticket
and safety.

In other months, I’d believe
the magistrates
when they say, “Wait.
Be patient.
Your turn is coming soon.”

In other months, I’d close my eyes
and that flash would be a camera, a passport photo,
not a bomb,
that burning smell would be rocket fuel,
not human hair,
that roar would be a shuttle,
not the neighbor’s baby,
radiation-sick and wailing,
her flesh pulling away
as if it, too, wants to escape
but doesn’t
have the money
or means
for a legal departure.

—Lora Gray