Home, at Last

     The backyard is crumbling. 

     Masked men with machetes butchered the hedges. The pool is a hydrothermal vent where the bacterium LUCA enjoys the floats. Where there isn’t dirt, the grass is coarse and tan. 

      Rabbits have pledged allegiance to a new kind. Squirrels scurry up the trees, hiding forever behind soft, white, flowering leaves. A garden snake slithers over a dirt patch, pauses and stares up to the faded blue sky. Sparrows gawk with dinosaur eyes, though if you look at them, they turn away. Half-faced neighbors peek over the gate and ask how things are. 

     When my friend comes over, I check her ID.

      We talk of peace, love, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how we don’t fund the military nearly enough. 

     A pregnant woman scales the fence and falls into our dust bowl. After stumbling to her feet, she begs for change. Our tall gate should have prevented this.

     We adopt code names for the pregnant woman. “Water” means government handout and “sparrow” is welfare queen. 

     I say to my friend, “Sparrow wants water but I’m not the water giver. Sparrow has already been given too much water.”

     The pregnant woman doesn’t seem to hear us, but a sparrow stares at us from the top of the fence. The bird’s eyes widen as our gazes fixate on it. 

      The earth suddenly begins to quake. A fault line beneath the yard tears the earth open and we fall in. My friend and I sink downward into the bottomless hole. We finally reach solid ground and are in a new world. 

     From a clearing, a small band of ruddy-faced, half-clothed hunters pass. We follow them as they look for game. They don’t seem to know any language beyond grunts and cries.

      At last, we are home. 

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