Courtney O’Banion Smith writes, edits, and raises her sons in Houston, Texas. Her work has appeared in several print and online publications including The Ekphrastic Review and Relief. Find her on Twitter @cobanionsmith. You can also find Courtney here.
What was it like? Well, we believed
our little corner was everything
and like everywhere else
and always would be.
Parties every week complete
with inflatable water slides and broken,
plastic parting gifts.
Stretchy pants so we could super-size
patties made of a thousand animals each.
A square of yellow for a little extra,
and we always paid
for a little extra.
We had so much, we thought
we were starving if we didn't get
what we felt like right away.
Even our pets on diets.
Back then, two gas stations for every house.
Cars because of sprawl. Sprawl because of cars.
Fake tans because the sun
had already begun
to kill us. And the storms.
Too much rain over too much concrete,
tides rose to meet floodwaters. Man versus
God with all the gadgets with all the news
all the time about celebrities we
wanted to be, politicians we blamed,
and friends we couldn’t make.
I remember this one time, my mother's eyes
brimming, looking at one of her screens, soft
rustle of her neon acrylic nails
digging into the skirt of her cotton dress
patterned with huge, hot pink hibiscus
gone now forever.
This time, she answered when I asked why
she cried. The very last male white rhino
in the entire world just died, she sighed,
like she was reading the last line at bedtime
from an ancient, beloved book.
She might as well have said
She wiped her nose with a tissue, gripped her gold cross.
Now, don’t litter, baby. Go throw your wrapper
in the trash.
Still so many species then.
We were convinced
we still looked good,
at least from the shoulders up.
I shouldn't blame her. What could she have done
really? The world had already been
lit on fire.