PB & J
The little girl and the bear are making sandwiches. Peanut butter and jellyfish, because the coral reefs are dying. Even Daryl Hannah is being replaced by a man, and women in Japan still buy skin bleach. Please god, they write on paper towels as the bear wraps their sandwiches: Please God. And the little girl doesn’t know if this means, please god or please, god. And she thinks about the sisters buried under concrete in Italy and then it means Please! God! But the bear doesn’t abide punctuation. Next sandwich, the girl will use the marker to write Dear God, because a letter is an opening and the bear brought her a branch of butterfly bush today, a purple pompom on the end, and said: Here, this is for your body; it’s called The New Testament. The girl is tired of tests. And everything people say that is suppose to be meant.
Before the Games Begin
The little girl and the bear hum their vast indifference. I thought you die young, she whispers. I thought a shotgun interior was made of merlot vines, he wants to tell her. They flip through catalogues underneath a canopy of bed sheets. No one has been murdered on the savannah, for days. They agree the next step should be to find water. In the outer room, voices streamer on about children dying in floods, in malls, in failed coups. The little girl imagines a bird returning to its nest: headlines like black worms in the momma’s beak, and all the eggs blown out. Failed coos. She reports back to the bear that by 2050, most of what they see now will be under water. The bear is an excellent swimmer and counts down for her the remaining days, until a torch will touch off the braided fuses, the networked intersecting rings.
The zoo is a blue cage, eight stories high and empty as an urban bluebird nest. A giraffe tops out a floor below the penthouse, his tongue a story in itself. The little girl tells the bear that humans and giraffes have the exact same number of neck bones. The bear grips a black crayon and colors in a puffin, complete with orange beak. A tiny gray elephant trumpets near the edge of this page and the bear wonders what songs serial killers hear in their heads while girls beat box in their basements. The bear says nothing about the way chains feel closed around an ankle, the way windows can shrink the world to a paned square. He draws some giant bamboo, thinks about how people camouflage with money, how a net is a net even if you’re initially happy you fell into it. The little girl tears the page out. Adds a joey to the picture, content with the safety of pockets for animals.
Amelia Martens is the author of The Spoons in the Grass are There To Dig a Moat, a book of prose poems selected by Sarabande Books for the 2014 Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature. Her chapbooks include: Purgatory (Black Lawrence Press, 2012), Clatter (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2013), and A Series of Faults (Finishing Line Press, 2014). She met her husband in the Indiana University MFA program; together they have created the Rivertown Reading Series, Exit 7: A Journal of Literature and Art, and two awesome daughters.