One Surviving Girl
I saw her today on the news,
her sharp face stilled in chaos.
The camera swerved away to rubble,
but I stayed with her.
Her dark eyes, round and wide
and calm from shock. Unblinking they searched
through fear for what might never be found:
family or home,
peace that will not flee quick
as ants underfoot.
Ash clouded her black hair,
drawn back in a matted tail,
and silt smeared her baby-round cheeks,
darkening the blood dried
in the crook of her mouth
like a secret.
The fissures are there in her eyes,
splitting the darkness
and the light.
She has learned too young
how easy it is
for bodies to break
or be broken.
In my dream you swam
in my belly and mermaids slipping
out of fins into legs ran a shoreline.
Around us rocks sprawled up like trees,
our own Tsingy de Bemaraha,
Rock jungle harsh but warm, and you
rounding near my hips, tucked beneath
my hands. I crouched among driftwood,
tracing where I could feel you, while birds
circled above, calling the world theirs.
Asleep I carried you whole,
the fish gasping, air-shocked,
on some shore below us. But morning petals
unfold and I ache, waking empty.
Teresa Morse holds a BA in English from Baker University. A Kansas native turned ex-Georgian, she now lives in the Cedar Valley with her husband and pug. When not reading or writing, she can be found hiking, baking bread, or rummaging in antique stores. Her work has appeared in The Cape Rock and Fearsome Critters.