A Warning


by Laurel Paige

     —after Grace Paley

One day I forgot Wellness and my hair fell out.

My honey-hued hair which promised, when braided and braced,

              to help me


                            from my tower, my butter-brown hair


is fallen.


And my left leg, stride once wide as a sunset, has shriveled.

It lags behind the right, dark star dragging.

Because I forgot Wellness.


And wherever I go, I am known by how I say the word sordid

            until it becomes a frantic chant, gorgeous as worship.


Because on one day, only one day, I forgot Wellness.


The Living everywhere, the Living who wear shades of purple

without asking for forgiveness, who speak language as if it were

a navigable map and not a diseased vine drying out—


Listen to me. Wherever you go, wherever the precious metals

               of your moth wings drip, keep the yellow 

                               flow of blood in your mind.


For I forgot Her and now I am bleached and badly limping.


Even my lover             who keeps his depression locked

               in a box like chocolate desserts



               thinks I deserve

                             my sickness.

Laurel Paige is a graduate of the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. She’s intimidated by social media and talks constantly about her dogs, Lady Blackbeard and Madam Poe. Because they’re just that awesome. Honestly. Laurel lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where she works at a software company and gives readings at meaderies. Her work has appeared in Firefly and is forthcoming at The Conglomerate


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