Two Poems by Kristina Erny

The Aliens Consider the Bright She
The eyes on our palms look in and we know.
Squint bright, false noon, terrarium play while
above, the mourning dove’s nest placed just so,
hangs over yard where they are. Our child,

swings, leaps out like stippled grackle, gleams.
Vigorous mouths and electrons are owned
by hoots, shrieks. Anti-night, her full light seems.
We come from outer space to take them home:

flies in jars, study joy and temper, or
build them a new city made of hills, if
just to watch them roll, come up greenly, sore.
Bless, bless these little heaps – straw in hair, lip-

sticks made out of a strip of velcro, plastic hoarded,
stuffed into lining of blue shoe, flowers
rubbed lovingly on scarred lip. She glows, soars.
We hold her. Chubby palms stick to our

alien faces. Our memory locks
away still images which while they sleep
we open, pry apart. Each new day docked
and accounted, named as what we can reap.

Encased here she’s safe as a specimen:
wild, loved. We sing to them nightly, open sky-
light to a show of stars your earth’s forbidden.
Mothers and fathers erased through play, play.

She’s studied in our celestial bliss.
Kisses her heels on our bizarre city’s
motes. We include the nest so she’ll notice.
She’s kin to just about everything; she’s

crescendo ravishing, a song slung back-
ward. Here beyond our breach she exudes her
aural brightness, running from the swing’s slack.
We know, true, we will never bring her back.


The Aliens Watch a Mother Dream
We don’t dream as she does. We’ve watched her start,
awake and breathless, stumble into next-
door rooms, place runty hands on her child, through dark

we could slice, we can see through. Tonight’s best
one was a quick dash across traffic, watching
her baby smashed by the oncoming heft

of a truck. This woman can’t tell a snatched
illusion from what’s real. She quietly
folds her body back into the bed, clutched

heartbeat even we can hear. So the night
brings her these terrible gifts: her boys falling from
an elevated dock, deep lake, the right

step, right off of the wrong balcony ledge;
a small nameless friend picking up a gun, points
it, playing, fires. See her pick her way to the boys

again, just to feel them warm and breathing.
See her adjust the blanket and turn on the night
light. See her tell her husband, his shush; he knows they

are not real. The man doesn’t have these kinds
of dalliance in false futures or deviant fake memories, at
least that we know. She’s easier to read. Her face like a window into the galaxy, she’s

precious with her needs. Precious her tiny human nose pressed
against her boy’s neck, palm down against
the bony ridges of his back, his thin sheet, her hopeful armor.

Maybe we should take her instead of them. Chart her
mindscape as a portrait of coming disaster.
As we study her we’ll grow to dream love

ripped tenderly from our own known tentacles. We’ll mother too. Wake
quaking from our own sick sleeps. Wisdom painful, gained through
probing encoded lobe, circles enclosed in a mother’s circles, her tortured dips, dreams.


Kristina Erny is a third-culture poet who grew up in South Korea. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s MFA program, she currently lives and works in Kentucky and has published work in Yemassee, Tupelo Quarterly, and the Los Angeles Review, among other places. Her work has been the recipient of the Ruskin Art Club Poetry Prize and the Tupelo Quarterly Inaugural Poetry award.