My child and I are puzzle pieces, fitting smoothly: his knees to my stomach, my chin on his head, his cheek at my breast. All of me, a soft shield, an imperfect bubble. The wind troubles the screen and plays vibrato on its mesh, tinny and suckling. The moon makes plain a tangle of boughs. This moon is full: a white head, halo-crowned. The wind disturbs the branches and stirs the clouds. The moon disappears, appears, is gone again. There are many words for gone. Detached, displaced, hidden. Snuffed. The moon can’t find its berth. And the wind hurries the night clouds, so quickly, it seems we must be going somewhere. I am afraid of the direction. On our southern border, refugee mothers and children do not sleep together, cannot stay together. They’ve been rent. And the moon is a pearl for a silver ring. From Caracas, mothers and their children are walking toward Columbia to find food. They have been surviving on grass. And the moon is an eye: alarmed, aglow. In Syria and Afghanistan—in Iraq, Somalia, and Libya—in Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan… There are many words for war. Oh, this moon in an areole of loss. Broken realms, slipping states. Which sky is yours? And yours? Or yours? The sky becomes the night in great pieces. Over territories and terror. For mothers and children. Like you, like yours. Like me, like mine.


Melissa OstromMelissa Ostrom is the author of The Beloved Wild (Feiwel & Friends, 2018), a Junior Library Guild book and an Amelia Bloomer Award selection, and Unleaving (Feiwel & Friends, 2019). Her short stories have appeared in many journals and been selected for Best Small Fictions 2019, Best Microfiction 2020, Best Small Fictions 2021, and Best Microfiction 2021. She teaches English at Genesee Community College and lives with her husband and children in Holley, New York. Learn more at or find her on Twitter @melostrom.