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Poetry

Anaphylaxis

  • 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?

Parties annexes

Parties annexes