Mary Mills is a teacher of world languages. She has translated poetry from German to English, and her work, Voices of Theresienstadt, has appeared in Pacific Coast Philology. She also dabbles in poetry forms. Her version of an extended haiku is on as “Winter Solstice at Newgrange.” Her sestina, “SOMA” has appeared in The Potomac: A Journal of Poetry and Politics.


Trigger Warning

Prickly rains drench Mother Courage as she pulls her wagon in Central Park.
First Eilif, then Swiss Cheese and Kattrin rushed into a red river that still gushes.
But I survived and came back; my mind is still intact. How are you, Jack?
Mother Courage falls down, makes a whimpering sound, and hugs the cold, wet ground.
I’m always under attack; treatment costs money, Jack. My credit score sank.
Sheets of rain scatter the audience through multi-dimensions of city streets.

Mother Courage drags her wagon with its few worn wares along winding streets
seeking answers to ease tensions as she wanders through Central Park.
“The money box, Swiss Cheese, save yourself and tell them where it sank,”
she called. Her children have become part of the ancient river that gushes
a red hemorrhage. Eilif kept killing and sleeps in the cold, hard ground.
Kattrin couldn’t stop drumming and was shot. I just want to hit the sack, Jack,

but my bed feels dank and smells bad.  Does anyone really care about me, Jack?
I eat a small snack. My energy gets a yank as I wander the streets
of New York. Am I with Mother Courage’s children in the ground?
I hear Kattrin’s drum as Mother Courage’s wagon gets smaller in Central Park.
Figures hail cabs; the audience rushes into a yellow river that gushes
through multi-dimensions of city streets without answers. My house just sank.

There must be a mistake. I’ll go to the bank and ask how my mortgage sank.
There’s a long line and a long wait time. The bank clerk asks: “How are you, Jack?”
The red river joins the yellow one, grabs Mother Courage’s wagon and gushes,
pushing me through multi-dimensions of flooded city streets.
“Excuse me,” I ask a passer-by, “did you see Mother Courage in Central Park?”
“Amazing!” he responds, “especially when she threw herself to the ground.”

I survived but have I come back?  Like Mother Courage, I have only the ground
beneath me. I can’t see Mother Courage or her wagon; maybe they sank
in the raging yellow and red rivers that threaten to submerge Central Park.
I survived and came back with only a knapsack. Where are you, Jack?
By a tent, I see you. A sea of tents. People with signs line the streets.
Someone is beating Kattrin’s drum. Sirens wail, and a stream of blue gushes

from cop cars and, wielding clubs, charges toward the tent dwellers. Red gushes
and splatters on my knapsack. I’m still intact and hit the ground.
Traffic snarls and horns beep because the tent people have taken to the streets.
Mother Courage and her children are with them; I didn’t think her wagon sank.
The mayor lets the tent city stay for now. Do you see Mother Courage, Jack?
The floods have receded, and she’s weary, hawking her wares near Central Park.

Everywhere property values sank. Flooding banks, foreclosure gushes.
Will I stay intact, Jack? Here I am asleep on the ground,
one of the ninety-nine by Central Park, living in the streets.


The original version appeared in the September, 2012 issue of The Missing Slate.

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