Stranded Sea Mammals by Meg Pokrass

Stranded Sea Mammals

I’m standing on the sidewalk across the street, taking a video of my mother on our roof. Since my brother’s drowning last year, Mom worries about stranded sea mammals. She’s better when up in her perch, binoculars dangling from her neck.

I point my camera right at Mom as she flaps her arms around spastically, shouting “porpoises and whales!” Someone slams a window down and the dogs on our block begin to howl. Dad runs out of the house, yelling Maria, keep it down! But she stays up there frozen in time, squinting into the sun like a gargoyle.

Mom texts me near sunset. Wants to see the video. I climb up and sit next to her, hook my arm around her shoulders. There’s a scent of expectation around her, as if this time, my movies will explain something.

How was your day, Button? she asks. What did you do with yourself? Well, Dad and I washed the dog in the tub, I report. And we have a little more shopping to do.

I’ve processed the video for her, white-washed it so her skin appears young. But I have no idea how to get rid of the lines of confusion around her mouth, or how to enhance her watery smile.

“You look great here,” I say. She squints at the moving images. “I do look better from this angle!” she whispers, softly like a girl. In the video I can actually see that it’s her Grand Canyon apron she’s holding up for the whales and porpoises to recognize. My brother gave it to her for her birthday last year. She waves it like a flag.


Stranded Sea Mammals


Meg Pokrass is the author of four collections of flash fiction, and one award-winning collection of prose poetry, Cellulose Pajamaswhich received the Blue Light Book Award in 2016. Her writing has been widely anthologized, most recently in the forthcoming Best Small Fictions 2018, edited by Aimee Bender (Braddock Avenue Books) and 2 Norton Anthologies of flash fiction: Flash Fiction International and New MicroExceptionally Short Fiction. A new flash fiction collection, Alligators At Night will be released in 2018 (Ad Hoc Fiction). Meg is the founder of New Flash Fiction Review. You can find out more at


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Image (modified): Bahnfrend CC by SA 3.0