A circus of torment. Immigration court waiting room crackles with distress. Emotions somersault and contort when considering high-wire rulings, no net below. Creased faces dissolve into phones. One hearing ends; the courtroom empties. A family and overworked pro bono attorney enter together, a stunned assemblage. Huddled in a corner, salty rivulets stain cheeks. We’ll appeal, the attorney says. How soon, the woman asks. The youngest son clings to her leg. Red-rimmed eyes fixate on floor tiles. The oldest daughter seethes and applies crimson lipstick. She decides to go to law school. Exits the gloom circus to scheme in the sun.

Rachel Prizant Kotok, addicted to constrained writing, writes letter-sequenced palindromic poetry, microfiction, flash, and short fiction. She was a finalist for Southwest Review’s Morton Marr Poetry Prize and the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in Tiferet Journal and Digital Paper. She teaches human rights-themed academic and creative writing in Northern California.