Johns Creek, GA
The Westminster Schools
Say it is night, and outside, there is a man
lying dead under the streetlamp. Skin tight
jaundice stretched over tissue/socket/bone
like the dried pulp of paper-mache, there’s
hyacinth blooming from skull—an expired
milk carton evaporating to salt—a flock of
geese migrating north. He is dead/dormant/
antithesis until he is not. The weatherman’s
forecast has the moon in retrograde motion
tonight—its maria swinging inward in an
attempt to mine water, the earth’s high tide
receding to drought. This is not an illusion.
He chains his frame together and looks up:
sees the moon’s glory in glow. They like to
call it moonsickness/mania/lunacy—when
all the world oscillates between technicolor
and grayscale as children wade into the sea
while the men on motorcycles crumple in a
heap. The Law of Attraction tries to tell you
like attracts to like, that positive doctrine
will be a divine salvation, that desires will
meet reality. Now say you’ll dial 911, then,
and a short jaunt of off-key elevator music
later, the line’s operator will pick up to tell
you it’s fine, that the quarantine team is
already there to clear the scene.
But say it is dawn/and there is no body/Say
he was never dead/Or alive/Say you are safe
in bed/snipping at strings and/unhitching
your jaw/and still, dying/and too scared/to
want to be saved.
Wow, I loved this! Like... a ridiculously huge amount. There's something really beautiful and transient about Lao’s writing, and the more I read this piece, the more ways I can find to interpret it. Lao is beyond gifted in their ability to craft vivid imagery. The writing is stunning.
Sarah Lao is a junior from Atlanta, Georgia. She is a 2020 YoungArts Finalist in Writing, and her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Hollins University, the Adroit Prizes, the Poetry Society of Virginia, and more. She has been nominated for Best of the Net, and her work appears or is forthcoming in Liminality, Atlanta Magazine, and the Penn Review, among others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR