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we lived on saturn

by Laurel Reynolds

we lived on saturn

and didn’t care when earth burned. it could have been three saturn centuries ago and our grandfathers

would have raved like it was burning man. the americans missed nevada and florida least, and they

preferred frosty feet to sand or swamps. everyone skied on the rings like they were the alps, except the

hotels and rentals were free. everyone works and everyone makes nothing. someone – i’m not sure who

– told me that people didn’t like that at first, and that the rations reminded people of their time on earth.

that rations meant war and war meant death, apparently. departments of defense don’t exist here– we

build arboretums and paint murals and record new songs and no one gets paid. guns are for water or tag,

and a bullet is only lipstick. not like other guns would work here, anyways, but they don’t exist. the

textbooks have pictures of them, but not many people learn earth history anymore. they only teach us

that when we left, the others didn’t want to come. that the lifeships were half empty.

my great-grandfather left his wife on earth

he boarded the lifeship with my grandmother and rationalized the goodbye hugs to his son. watered the

roses with prayers and soldered his wedding ring to the doorknocker. the world court decided that if one

guardian wanted to stay on earth, the minors would be split evenly. when the number was odd, the final

child would flip a coin to decide; no one knew who would live. one story says that if they had saved all

seventeen-year-olds’ tears, they could have refilled the atlantic ocean. my great-grandfather claimed he

alone would have brought snow back and overflowed the arctic if water conservation was legal. he would

have led militias through guerilla warfare if citizens still had guns or he had hope. if the world court

hadn’t grabbed kindling and voted to burn earth before she lit herself.

Laurel Reynolds (she/they) is a poet who will attend Brandeis University in the fall for a joint MA in English Literature & Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. Her work often explores the connections between queerness, pop culture, trauma, and relationships. Laurel’s poems have been published through The Tower, The Current, The Incandescent Review, JAKE, and more. Their debut chapbook, Swallowing the Ash, is out now with Bottlecap Features. Check them out at laurelreynolds.com!

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