By Sarah Bean
The pharmacist fills me
full of lethal liquid,
tells me to stick around for half an hour.
I stare at the boxes lining the counter—
Aerius, Benadryl, Claritin, Reactine,
(my childhood drugs of choice)
as the grandmas and grandpas yell around
the plexiglass for their inhalers,
pulling their masks below weak chins
to bare their teeth to anyone who will watch.
I feel the serum course
through my bicep,
subcutaneous sticky sweetness bringing
sunny day serendipity.
I am twenty two, I can finally breathe
out of my nose,
and spring is now my favourite season.
Feeling full of anything
still feels so new,
still makes me check my cheeks for hives,
makes me clear my throat to keep it open,
and when I think of the past,
it makes my tongue swell
(so I try to save those thoughts
for when that’s not a sign of adverse reaction)
but sometimes I can’t help it.
The beach dads in their flip flops
stocking up on Banana Boat and scratch-offs
look so free,
because they can get out
of this sterility whether the walls like it or not.
My armpit turns sunburn red,
blotchy with jealousy and birch trees.
I tell myself that one day
I won’t come here anymore.
My body will be full to the brim
with that which can kill me
and it will keep me safe.
I watch a baby smile
at the pharmacist without knowing
what comes next.
Sarah Bean (she/her) is a library technician and poet from Alberta, Canada. Her work has appeared in Goats Milk Magazine, The Giving Room Magazine, and in zines photocopied at her local library. She thanks you for being gentle.