by Nikki Wallschlaeger
The unfoldment continues. The pills work less and less but she still gives them her name for the system, their valiant system, her phone number, her accumulation of points for consumable goods that will outlast her. Maybe it won’t end the way she thinks it will. There’s a long line ahead of her. She’s probably the only planet in the galaxy picking up a prescription for anxiety and depression, buckling under the strain of witnessing what’s been happening on her own back: the mushrooming lacerations, rashes from chemical spills, the concrete hardening her arteries.
She missed her sisters and brothers. Hadn’t seen them in a millennia, at least. Parents were long dead. Elsewhere. Were their bodies trapped somewhere far away by the weight of civilizations on their bones of forest and sea? The last few centuries have been terrible. The constant, persistent struggle to survive when you are barely acknowledged as “alive” in the first place. Of course she’s alive. They couldn’t live without her, but they’re determined to extract everything she has in order to save themselves. That’s not how this works. Most of them are too stubborn or afraid to figure that out. The gas station across the street bursts into flames. They were really throwing down at the protest today. At least some of them had some sense.
Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness, POETRY, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horseless Press 2015) and Crawlspace (Bloof 2017), as well as the graphic book I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (2019), also from Bloof Books.