The bed is full– my mother 

perched on the corner, my calf 

in her palm. One brother sprawled 

across the middle, the other 

sitting beside my head. 

My sister curls into my stomach,

my husband’s warm sigh lands 

on the side of my neck 

and my father stands by the door, 

content to guard the room. 

My worry is strong enough 

to dissolve solid bodies into a rain 

of invisible atoms, carry them 

through the night and assemble them 

in my bed, where I can be sure 

they are safe. I want to sing to them 

but I don’t know how so I just 

keep breathing, invite them 

to match my long inhales.

On nights when someone is missing, 

I lay awake and stare at the ceiling 

until the dark turns to a dance 

of gray fuzz, till I see my cousin 

ripped apart in an early birth, 

till I picture my uncle dead 

and remember it true. 

These nights, I feel alone

so I kick my feet, sweep them 

across the length of the bed until 

I hear the dog groan. I lay awake 

until the room is a buzz of atoms, 

sliver of sound, until 

the room becomes hot 

as a promise, 

as another precarious day.


Author Bio:

Jen Gayda Gupta is a teacher, an avid hiker, and a horse lover. She is currently on the run from responsibility, living nowhere at all with her husband and their dog. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, Dodging the Rain, Jellyfish Review, Sky Island Journal, The Shore and others. You can find her @jengaydagupta and jengaydagupta.com.