May Contain Traces

 

In grade three I was jealous of the boy

who had an EpiPen, Aaron. With it,

he could survive peanuts. Like a videogame

egg it was hidden elsewhere to be uncovered

during moments of kingdom crisis.

In China, workers weave through fields

pulling paintbrushes across crops

for pollination, the bees gone, fallen

onto sidewalks, a billion yellow blossoms

underfoot. Sadness crunches in me

as my mind’s foot traipses over them,

over my misinformation of them.

I am not okay. I am spooning chemicals

into my mouth and calling them food.

My produce, hauled north for two weeks

from California, smells like truck stop—

this apple could actually be a candle.

A classroom aid sprinted to Aaron

when he fell from his desk choking

on invisible intruders, his face swelling

purple. She crumpled him against her

chest, plunging the pen in. The classroom

held its collective breath. I wanted to be

held like that, protected from some

trace threat. I am still so misinformed

and selfish. See, I am tracing threats

onto my placemat, spelling them out

in 99¢ alphabet soup. Can someone please

tell me what’s going on? My mouth feels

like it’s hardened into plastic. I wish I

could live quietly in China, painting fruit

onto trees, thinking of the preservatives

sprinkled into me, thinking isn’t it lovely

how someone wants to preserve me?