Amelia Martens

Early in the 21st Century

The little girl and the bear put off bedtime. The sun is still up. The sun is still up. And the moon is a bright hangnail. The sky fills with airplanes, helicopters, winged bugs. The sky empties; blue is a heartbeat so large the cardiogram doesn’t fit on one screen. The little girl and the bear read books and lay around in just underwear. They want to know what words mean. What the world means. They ask for water, for another chance to brush their teeth. The sharp, sharp swords growing in their mouths. The bear falls asleep first, snoring into the wall where a tribe of hungry ants gets high on the fumes of flowers and honey. The little girl is working out a pattern in the ceiling; it might be a map. It might show her the picture of before-the-attack.



Every Time They Hear a Helicopter

They fear a yellow helicopter: it means someone is about to die. Air traffic is so light in the night sky, even the slightest rotor whirls: traumatic brain injury, traumatic brain injury. In matching twin beds, the little girl and the bear listen to the touch down on the hospital’s landing pad. Noise is no accident. A tractor-trailer jackknifes on the interstate. A drunk Santa Claus flips and rolls. A mother texts $$$, to the father of three boys in the back seat, then meets a five point buck.

The little girl is afraid of blank sky. Behind her closed eyes, the Challenger explodes in a sunrise. The evening star is a spaceship forever. The bear is afraid of asteroids, drones, being occupied from above. He remembers the quiet of September, all flights grounded. An aerial hibernation manufactured; a halftime for clouds. Red lights ghost their bedroom curtains, x-ray the frames of empty cars, and cyclone on. The helicopter whirs out of earshot, but both their hearts beat a little more oxygen for a little longer, into the dark tunnels of their lungs.


Amelia Martens is the author of The Spoons in the Grass are There To Dig a Moat (Sarabande Books, 2016), and three chapbooks: Purgatory (Black Lawrence Press, 2012), Clatter (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2013), and A Series of Faults (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her work has earned support from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Kentucky Arts Council, and Rivendell Writers’ Colony. She met her husband in the Indiana University MFA program; together they have created the Rivertown Reading Series, Exit 7: A Journal of Literature and Art, and two awesome daughters.