Another War

by Melissa Bernal Austin

Ordinary as a cabbage.

And I’ve been flirting with the idea
of becoming a prepper.
Researched rain barrels, food storage. I stop myself
from buying cat food in bulk.

A head of cabbage will keep in a cellar
for up to six months. And there’s so much
cabbage in a cabbage.

The world is run by rabid dogs
too thirsty to drink.

There are more than 400 types of cabbage
in the family Brassicaceae.

How many of any family survives?

People flee with animals, papers and photos.
A grandmother’s brass ring.

Desolation, a rising tide, a wave, and no ark.

Here, a perfect pyramid of pale green heads,
under plastic, under fluorescence.
Surreally organized and
clean as a whistle.

God won’t even look a potato in the eyes.

I saw a building explode, then I saw
a commercial for Wendy’s.
Then a car I can’t afford, in the driveway of a house
I can’t afford, housing a life out of reach.

The price of food is rising, rising. And no ark.

Which is closer? The war, a cabbage in the dirt,
a life of abundance?

I am already in the only place I know to go.
I am fortunate and afraid.
I have more cats than I can carry.

Melissa Bernal Austin is a queer Latine writer, artist, and educator in El Paso, TX. Spotted in the wild, they’ll typically be covered in cat hair, paint, and/or dirt. Their work can be found or is forthcoming in Longleaf Review, CrabFat Magazine, Dreginald, The Boiler, and more. More of their work and projects can be found online at @house.gnome and @mbernalaustin.


Photography by: Ray Shrewsberry