“Packing Light” by Elizabeth R. McClellan

after @notaleptic

lamps tuned to elsewhere:
get into that red Mars glow
for motivation, or that cool
Saturn shine for staying in—

white dwarf light for stillness,
cycling through giants to get
through the day. In the upgrade
they say there will be rare

ocean phosphorescences, real
psychedelic stuff. I develop
a taste for artificial firelight.
You find a rose window and

track the colors through the day.
save the prettiest sequences.
This place we live together is
interstitial, all the bulbs fluoresce

and are boring, eternal three o’clock.
On the web you make friends,
swap stained glass patterns and
brittle green dawns. I paint my

impressions, twilight on Phobos,
rose window fragments and shades
of shadows between the panes.
I can’t remember who brings up

how we hate the three o’clock lights,
how we could afford, if we gave up
some luxury, to go and see the light
for real, in weather, in person,

and it goes from suggestion to dream
like a comet gathering dust as it
flares. The tickets are booked. You
pack the lamp, smile, hold my hand:

“we won’t need it where we’re going,”
I say, and you reply “we’ll take it
anyhow, to remind us, and for
your paintings.” Tomorrow we emerge;

tonight, we sleep in darkness for
the final time, dream of dawn and
twilight and water shining through
mist, creating color, splitting light.

Elizabeth R. McClellan is a white disabled gender/queer demisexual poet writing on unceded Quapaw and Chickasha Yaki land in what settlers call the Mid-South. In their other life, they are a domestic and sexual violence attorney working with Latinx immigrant survivors to provide holistic civil legal services. They are a previous winner of the Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors Award, current Rhysling Award nominee in short and long form. Their work has appeared in Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, Chrome Baby, Goblin Fruit, Stone Telling, Utopia Science Fiction, Apparition Lit, Illumen Magazine, Mirror Dance, and many others, as well as two of the Rhonda Parrish Elemental Anthologies, Girls Who Love Monsters, and others. Work from them is forthcoming at Nightmare Magazine. They can be found on Twitter and elsewhere as @popelizbet and on Patreon at patreon.com/ermcclellan.