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            ELLIE WHITE

            Anxiety with Fauna

The final straw is always
an animal. A shimmering blue wasp
lands on the invisible scale of my well-
being and tips it. Naked, covered
in Raid, I sob into the phone.

My cats helped with the snake.
Helpfully, while I was showering
they cornered the small scaly guest.
I screamed so loud, they hid
under the bed for 30 minutes.

A brown, slightly shiny, ten inches
of slither. I caught the docile
species in a blue-lidded Gladware.
Then, I called my older sister
and sobbed into the phone.

My friend tells me she has
the “mental itchies.” The smell
of 1,000 chrysanthemums smacks
me in the nose when I walk
into her small apartment.

I bring chips and guac. I wait

in the hallway, talking to her through
the open doorway. She stands
in the bathroom with a fine-toothed
comb and can of delousing mousse.

Lice are going around her kid’s
school. She doesn’t have them.
The wasp wasn’t aggressive, the snake
nonvenomous. It’s never the animal
itself, just everything that came before.

Ellie White holds an MFA from Old Dominion University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Breakwater Review, The Indianapolis Review, Foundry and many other journals. She is a social media editor and reader for Muzzle Magazine. Ellie currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.