“Tickets, please.” And you show your pass, though not before you note
the number of your seat. Scrambled, it’s the year they shut off the grid.
The colony just turned fifteen and your mother took you down to the bunkers
as defoliation teams arrived to treat the infected yew in the back. You knew:
Summer days spent under its bosomy shade soon chipped to a pile
for kindling to burn, a chipped memory to Rubix cube stack and stow away.
Like the luggage in the ship’s berth. They dim the lights to womb-dark
and fill the pods until your face’s slick with vitreous goo, a bioluminescent green
you choke down, thinking of wet-shining meadows like the ones once promised
in brochures. You click your seatbelt, pull the dangling cords to strap in tight,
the same tightness in your chest when they asked you to leave the carrier behind.
You cried hard when Luna bolted down the departure tunnel, fleeing past the area
marked “Restricted Terminal: Radiation.” For a moment, you only saw
“Radiant Terminus,” and you wanted to run there, too.
You brace for the thrust, rockets on, the shuttle floating above the ground now,
brushing the pampas back like the hair on your sister’s head your mother stroked
when she lay on her lap and asked “Is Luna gonna be there, Mama?”
pointing up to the pinprick of Colony 2, “where we’re headed?”
You knew: No ticket buys that passage. Border’s been closed, sealed up
like your eyes inside this plexi glass case. When the AI speaks over the intercom,
it jokes about the multiverse, but second chances aren’t parallel lives.
You can’t live the counterfactual. There’s drumming from fists
pummeling the doors now. If only they could let everyone stand in between,
in the aisles, make space in spaces. But it’s not room they need to spare but weight,
and you are cold sink heavy now. You are vacuumed sealed essentials;
your histories of seizures and miscarriages, tree stumps and abandoned pets
to be left behind. Your heart beating takes its place in the leaving,
an unsure arrhythmia. Boom, BOOM, boom, BOOM—
This drum circle can’t accommodate more. But it’s okay. You’re inside.
You’ve paid dearly for these seats.
Genevieve DeGuzman was born in the Philippines, raised in Southern California, and graduated from Columbia University. Her fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in Alluvian, Flyway, LONTAR, Rising Phoenix Review, and Switchback, among other journals. She is a winner of the Oregon Poetry Association New Poets Contest and has been awarded a residency at Can Serrat. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Learn more at: about.me/genevievedeguzman