Nothing survives the air,
Nothing except the tin metallic bones threaded through our hearts
to help us breathe in tune with the sky
We’ve become machines, the blood parts of us belonging only to the air
Sometimes, I wonder if the air is already inside,
clogging our minds with hopeless dreams of a shambled future.
I don’t know how she laughs with the oxygen mask,
tubes and wires and a cart attached to her tiny frame
Each time she smiles, the fog shields her from her breath,
but Ru always smiles and laughs,
an emotion the rest of the world has forgotten to express
I have an idea of what we should do today
The remnants of the sodden and tear-stained Earth make a mural on our window,
I watch, trying to capture a picture of this moment with my weathered palms,
but it doesn’t all fit, and I remember that today the strings will be
a little loosened so we can breathe without wires.
We still look awful.
What do you want to do?
I want to go outside and walk until I can roll up the world into a blanket.
Why a blanket, Ru?
So I can wrap it up and give it a hug. I think the world needs a hug.
A hug, and maybe three wishes from a magic lamp,
Forever and ever-revolving like each new ring added to the trees,
life still clings to the remaining weeds of our planet.
My sister sweeps her hair up into a bun to keep it out of the way,
of her oxygen machine pumping life, to shield it from the air
Soon, in 2 years when she’d be twenty,
she’d work at the manufacturing factory like most everyone else,
except for the teachers, authors, doctors, and astronauts
Before, Ru wanted to be an engineer to construct tall buildings to conquer the skies
Now there are no buildings left, and it is the smoke that conquers
One day, I hope she’ll do more than clean oxygen carts and make new lungs for others
Someday, maybe my sister will become an engineer,
while I stare at my ink-stained pages dripping with truth and fantasies.
People only went outside to bury a relative or visit the past
and Ru wanted to go on a walk amid the shrapnel.
She was like that, my sister,
the one who was the river and I was the rock
Ru wanted to go places, to better places for the future of humankind,
and I wanted to grit my teeth and stare at
blank manuscripts on my computer
trying to hold her back from the dust among the stars.
Are we going to check out?
No, we’re going to check ourselves out, dummy. I’m sure Aileene won’t mind
that we’re going out for a walk. How’re your stories going, May?
I thought Aileene would most definitely mind, but I swallowed my thoughts,
helping Ru out into the sundried martian landscape our city had become, trying to avoid answering her questions.
The city was discarded by the air, millions of factories and people dead
Dead in an instant, the fog vaporizing trees and buildings, greens and color.
Because the air and the acrid sky was mad, so it threw a tantrum for the poor Earth,
Humans, the ones we have become
soon will be the only things left, stubborn and blunt, unmovable
Sadly living among the deadened world.
It took so much effort to move,
even though the smog hid the dying sun from view
Ru not even noticing or realizing that if one of our machines failed,
we’d be vaporized too, though the air wasn’t that toxic now.
I never knew how much I hated my ancestors until my eyes adjusted to the wasted away
scarred, marred land with only a cemetery dome up ahead
My thin papery skin longed for more vitamins, screaming for sunlight
watching Ru slip back into a depressed state,
And my heart ached for my sister who I couldn’t help to brave the air.
My stories? There aren’t any more of those, Ru. The world isn’t the same.
I think we’ve finally written everything there is to hear.
We walk aimlessly with no direction, not that there is anything to lead us
It’s unlike Ru to be this patient, to be this unresponsive,
but then I notice her gaze upon the tethered stitched-together sky
She is looking for a boat to sail upon the air’s current like those
billboards the space station makes out of nylon taped for everyone to read
that they’re looking for volunteers to journey up in space,
For a new home. A new Earth that isn’t dying at human hands
Ru is the river and I am the rock, and I will never leave.
Suddenly she cries out and I stumble,
looking back over the cracked landscape we’d traversed over,
our breath coming heavily, our oxygen pumping faster from the tanks.
Look, look, I’ve found one May! I knew there would be a chance,
a chance the stories haven’t run out!
All I see is pastel-chalk terrain until Ru moves my head
to where a small dandelion nestles between the cracks
It should’ve been vaporized like all of nature as I learned in school
but this still lives, and so do the stories.
She’d been looking for it, this wilting sign of life mirroring,
her visions of a future on a planet besides Earth
like those billboards about habitable planets
right above the oxygen plant factory.
NASA was allowing volunteers to join the cause,
hop aboard spaceships with no destination for a better future,
but I couldn’t imagine deserting the planet we’d destroyed
to go and destroy some other one.
Ru picks up the dandelion gently
and closes her eyes, maybe remember the time when the living grasses
covered the Earth, lined with towering trees speckled with
rows and rows of these dandelions,
Weed-wishers. Weeds that granted long-lost wishes.
I smile as Ru blows on the small puffs
laughing through the mask as
the puffs fly up to join the air we cannot breathe in.
»──────ஓ๑♥๑ஓ ────── «
She left in pitch-black darkness
when I was asleep over the wet ink and tousled ideas
where she left me a note consisting of three letters
There are stories
And then I knew where she had gone,
to brave the billboards and ships to fulfill her dandelion wishes.
I saw her on the news, heading up the gangplank with over half the population
half the population going up the gangplanks to different spaceships
launched into space along with my sister,
My sister, the one who wanted to hug the world and become an engineer.
Their ships scraped the skies and I begged for her to come back,
cried over her bed and added streaks of water to the bedspread
wishing on each cut-up tissue paper dandelion that wouldn’t join the air
that she’d come back to walk with me one last time.
One day, it rained hot ash and shrapnel,
her ash. Only Ru’s ash from the spacecraft that exploded
but everyone else was fine
the ones who went in the other ships.
So that day, she really had come back, and it was raining her ash.
and I went out in the scalding heat,
burning welts into my yellowing skin
to scream and cry and lift my palms to the air to collect her dust.
And one day, that dust would follow me through the martian-like terrain I wouldn’t leave
and I’d find another dandelion tucked behind a rock
knowing that maybe if I spilled her essence into the Earth trying to grow a piece of color,
My dandelion wish,
Ru’s and mine alike,
would come to life again.