In the airport lost and found,
a janitor discovered a small vial,
tightly corked, with a label
handwritten in red ink:
to remove a curse
to reverse a course
to restore a chance
She thought of her constant debt
and deprivation. Long night hours
cleaning floors. Her headaches
etching a trough in her brain for years.
And a man she knew when the band
played Harvest Moon; the slippery
dress she wore, how he twirled her.
Turning the vial in her stiff fingers,
Take three drops on the third hour
of the third day of the third month.
(Today was March 3! Soon,
it would be 3 a.m.)
Shake well. Warning: do not use if--
Here, the script was muddled
in a red stain, like wine or beets
or blood. The barrier of if--
First published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine