We’re still soldiers. The damage
is just different. I didn’t crash
land near the Medusa Fossae
Formation physically. The surface
of my brain is also fretted,
ready to tune a sharp note,
a cerebellum blast against
the enemy. They’re slender,
psy-wraiths. They prefer
the glacier and sand dune areas.
Sick opposites like their mouths.
Do you remember when they
played friendly, their darkness
visible on every vid? There’s
something wrong, I said. They
shivered forms at just the wrong
moment. These are the things
you have to be a soldier to see.
I survived three campaigns
without an injury, knew I was
slipping when my eldest child
appeared wraith-like. The Fossae
became my mother’s breast littered
with shrapnel, every mental
movement littered with pain.
I try to watch
the sunrise every morning
now, stay mostly in the light.

—Alicia Cole