& my brother opens the dryer & climbs inside,
while our babysitter & I holler & search for an hour
& come up short. Crystal, from a doublewide about four
bus stops away, & I can’t find him & she’s thinking how
she isn’t getting paid enough for this shit. Check under
the bed, in all the closets. Tell the dog to track his scent.
He’s in the hull of a metal ship, floating alone, stars
swirling, waiting to be found, waiting to win. This is
how the game works, while Mars’s gravity is 0.377
the strength of Earth’s & still the camera catches a shadow
hoofing it across that distant world’s dusty plains,
its pawprints larger than my face. Know your
monster, the one caged inside, patiently waiting.
Set the control knob to protect from triggers, prevent its escape.
Mars is just another planet with the same possibilities,
I mean the same failures, as ours. So to find my kin
I tiptoe around, checking under the cushions for the brother
who looks like me but isn’t of me, the one who can (& can’t)
recall the same memories. Because I, too, want to climb back
inside & rest in the hollow that made me. Which is to say,
you should realize when the game is over—when they stop
searching for you, when they stop calling your name.
Next up in the portfolio: “Moneymaker” by Sarah Audsley
Sarah Audsley is the author of Landlock X (Texas Review Press, 2023). A Korean American adoptee, a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and a member of The Starlings Collective, Audsley lives and works in northern Vermont. (updated 10/2023)