Out it comes,
equinox-crossed
and it’s winter again. She holds her breath.

The aliens haven’t adjusted well. They carry inhalers,
wear masks. State-issued
warnings: Avoid

driving, stay inside. None of this air is translucent. It turns
and it turns out this city’s in a rut, rated 9th
overall. #9 Toxic.

She licks her lips, a bit
Fire Engine Rose, a hint copper. A peach pit on the counter—
the fruit already in her stomach—

ground up, or bit down

that small core of cyanide
can kill
a bird, a dog, a child. Some aliens

lobby congress for stricter policies: to lessen
the scent of old eggs and black toast. The people shake
hands, nod and grit

statements about basic chemistry, differences in atmosphere.
No burning, fire-
works okay with USE CAUTION. If breathing

is troubled, take heed.

Natalie Young
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