neon keratin

by Autumn Koors Foltz

to my mother

Because the moon goes down sometimes. I watch it go. I watch the moon go down sometimes. You tell me you can’t sleep when they aren’t here. I can’t sleep either. Not when nobody is here. Not when everybody is here. He crept in from the window. I reimagine I was there. We meet eyes. He is not the whitefly. He is not the snakehead. Our carpet has become road and am I the deer. Am I the headlight. He raises the gun and his hand is not flesh nor bone but illuminated neon glass. But that is not what happened but I know you feel it too. Feel your flesh become the softer tissue and the harder keratin.

You sleep when they are here and I know because I can hear your breath carry through the walls. The pivots and falls of it. I still do not because the whiteflies crowd the switch when I try to flick it off. Cannot after I bat them away because after is when the snakehead swims. Glides through the darkened air. I tell you I cannot sleep because of neon glass but I cannot sleep because the snakehead hits the tender of my thigh when I try to. I jolt away and the whiteflies nest in my mouth when I unhinge my lips. Eggs lodging in the crooks of my gums and shoving the teeth away.      Gotta learn how to let things go. You tell me. When it happened I was the neon glass.

I know because you told me to turn the brights off.   Gonna blind someone with your brights on. Nobody could look at me and I know because the brights were on. But the bubble holding the light felt as though it were keratin. If I am keratin why is everyone blind. Who is looking. I cannot sleep because I know she is here even if she is not. The baby whiteflies try to crawl from my lips and she holds her hand over and mine. I cannot tell if it is bone. Gun. Flesh. Glass. Moon. Keratin. I do not know the difference. What is softer. What is harder. I choose the moon. I know because I watch it. The moon. I watch it. It goes down sometimes.

Autumn Koors Foltz is currently a poet and student for the literary arts program at George Washington Carver Center of Arts and Technology, class of 2020. Her work has been recognized with three Silver Keys by the Scholastic Art & Writing awards. She loves black coffee, writing poetry, girls, and the moon, all equally.
Artwork by: V Holeček

V Holeček is an American artist of Czech-descent working in drawings and paintings. His art is rooted in dark surrealism. He has exhibited his work in numerous group exhibitions. His work can be found in several private collections around the world, and he has worked for small film projects.