Mother Darling Goes to the Casino

by Alexa Doran

It’s not that I can’t handle it—
           the rainbow sop of the slots,
      the coin clot, the neon scar
                         of night that never stops—
but that the woman next to me
            lets the fluorescents freckle her hands
                  like Jesus let the moon muscle his back
                                       when everything else was wilderness.
How many of us have asked too much of glitter?
                               Have counted on sparkle to bear?
I know that’s why my therapist suggested this—
                          it’s easy to concede defeat
      in the disco-honey of dollars and gin neat.
                            She doesn’t think I’ll ever see Wendy.
             The boys? I ask. Maybe. She says for mums like me
                                          belief is the new baby.
       Coddle it. Nurse it. But, my God, loss has a mouth
                                   that ferns and ferns. Every morning
its lips un-stitch and I feather its ever-urn.
                    The woman to my left places her last bet
     of the night. What will she buy?
              Is there a child cozy in some London,
                   some quaff of jasmine, awaiting
           the putter of her tokens,
     or a husband liquoring away the Sunday
                         she wants to use as his grave? Maybe
    I am a goddess and
              this is all myth. How else could three children
                        just cease to exist? Why else would I be
        in this kaleidoscopic cyst, if not to feel
                   the fracture of all I miss
                                     fed back to me as glitter and hiss?

Alexa Doran is currently a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Her work has recently been featured or is forthcoming in Guernica, Glass, Gravel, Permafrost, FIVE:2:ONE and Conduit, among others. Her series of poems about the women of Dada, “The Octopus Breath on Her Neck,” will be published as part of Oxidant/Engine’s BoxSet Series in 2019. Please visit for a comprehensive list of Alexa’s publications, interviews, and awards.