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In her new city
my grandmother took the bus to the mall,
her outing for the week
to marvel at the abundance of
clothes, housewares, toys.

They had won the lottery, she would tell me,
an invitation, a gift to America, a job,
a promise of opportunity away from their birthland
which they were no longer allowed to enter:
boundaries drawn and cut.

In the new city, skyscrapers kept rising,
shiny silver, taller and taller,
made of power and might.

Each spring, birds lie dead on the concrete—
cedar waxwings, yellow oven birds, warbler after warbler after warbler.
A single building in Texas killed 395 birds in one night.
Their feathers crumpled, bodies fallen from stories above,
volunteers were able to rescue three.

Man-made glass obelisks reflecting light,
mimicking clouds on a stormy day
or illuminated at night create a mirage of safety.

Within offices, plants’ green leaves,
outlined under fluorescent lights, add
to the structural lie, the disorientation,
disrupting centuries-old migration patterns.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall,
my grandmother returned, once, to the country
she would never call home again.

She told me the people had changed.

Even the language had changed.

V. Bray has been a writer since childhood and still has a box filled with her first “books,” usually illustrated with markers and bound with yarn. She writes in many genres, from speculative and historical fiction to poetry. Her work has been published in About Place Journal, Multiplicity Magazine, and The Writer magazine. Learn more at

© 2022 V. Bray

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