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  • Susan Elmslie

Corps de l’article

is the surprise in the Cracker Jack box
during the ride home from daycare—a treat.
He’d had peanuts before, or so we thought,
at least traces. There’d been rashes, seemingly
random, once with lentils. Sweet potatoes?
Nothing sure. Today, within two hours’ time,
rash spreads like merlot on marble, and hives
emboss his spine like the wave at halftime—
strafing cough and Lionel Barrymore wheeze—
his whole body is mixed metaphor and
off rhyme. 911, quick! First responders
hook up a mask, inject Epinephrine,
which works, hold your heart! The ambulance ride’s
easy. I’m dreading meals on the flip side,

dreading parties—the food he hasn’t tried,
buffet tables lined with serving dishes,
undeclared tree nuts. Or worse: the outside
chance this reaction’s idiopathic—
trigger unknown, the black hole of worry,
the month we have to wait before they test,
scouring ingredients lists, eyes blurry
from marathon workdays of care, no rest
because he can’t talk, he can’t understand
that food might make him sick. Everything goes
into his mouth: toys, mittens, even sand.
We’ll pack an Epipen outside the house.
Can a Medic-Alert bracelet save us
from nice kids who share Glosettes at recess?

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