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I’m so glad we found you alive.
Let’s hear your voice in any shade but “sorry.”
We feel your forehead, diagnose you no false
image in the sand of where we’ve been, this dream
tucked into the pocket of a year, wandering
pawning our milky eyes for any clues regarding your disappearance.

We swallowed marbles every day you disappeared.
I’m so glad we found you alive,
with cunning magic called your ghost from its wandering—
it’s we who should be sorry
for smoking you home, like waking from the lottery dream
to try your winning numbers, find them false.

Tell us about the mountains, stands of trees bearing false
oranges, which when stripped from their pocked skins disappear
into juicy wedges that don’t exist and induce strange dreams.
I’m so glad we found you alive,
lugged down from the peak with trumpet fanfare in that sorry
excuse for a Jeep, forever one speed bump away from leaving you wandering.

Tell us whatever you’re comfortable telling—don’t mind me; I’m just wondering
how you beat that riddle, with the false
guard and the true one. Did they give you much grief? God, I’m sorry.
Some people, right? We’ll fold you into sparrows, help you disappear—
I’m so glad we found you alive—
we’ll pretend to hand you over to them, swap you last-minute with a dream.

You’d do the same for me. Could I have dreamed
a moonrise for the worst day of my life, hunkered in the ward like birds wintering
(I’m so glad we found you alive)
It’s never the nurses who save you, no true-false
questionnaire, naming your ransom on a 10-point scale, “How likely are you to disappear?”
but the voice that answers when you call to say you’re sorry.

Alright? So let’s have a good cry, take a moment to feel sorry
for ourselves, and then let’s grow our claws out and howl. Let’s marry our dream
lovers, let’s not ask each other where we make our money, we all need places to disappear
to, but don’t go without us. In our combined lifetimes of wandering
not one of us ever heard a story that was entirely false.
I’m so glad we found you alive.

Don’t keep us waiting or we’ll all be sorry. Wander
through the door like into our collective dream, like passing under falls
and disappearing into bright wet mirror. I’m so glad we found you alive.

Katy Bond is a writer of poetry and fiction from Missouri. She gets emotional about folk music and her very supportive friends. Her poetry can be found in Strange Horizons, Epic, petrichor, and elsewhere. This is her first professional fiction sale.
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24 Jun 2024

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