Fever Dream

Ashley Wagner

When I came home from a dream
in which I had been lost in a lavish
landscape of waste          nothing
really changed. The cat still stretched
indulgently          stuck out in the sun
of the balcony like an egg gone golden
& hissing in oil.

In the dream          we made a ritual
of smelling small bottles of lavender.
One morning          they turned to
woodsmoke in our noses. Then Tabasco.
We prayed to the gods
of Tylenol and Aspirin. The morning after
healing smelled like a chemical burn.

Each new day dissolves on the tongue like ash.
Spit the pearl of mucus from your maw
and try again.

I still try unravelling the pain in my head
by unspooling my threads          face first
my eyebrows          cascading in ribbons
down winter-chapped cheeks.

Streets still slick like water beneath my feet.

The snow crunches underfoot          like a cough.

Author Bio: Ashley Wagner is a queer writer, reader, and roller-skater living in Baltimore. She is the poetry editor for Ligeia Magazine, and her work has appeared in Door is a Jar, Salamander, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Grub Street.

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