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Allergy Girl I

Sandra Beasley

Wasting. A hunger so great I bite through a pacifier.
My mother tries to fix me with more milk, more milk.
Doctors run tests on my squalling body. No breast
is safe, no cowgoatsoy milk. I nurse on apple juice.

My parents agree on one rule: Don't break the baby.
They pour quarters into the arcade game of adulthood,
working the mechanical claw right, left, right, back,
aiming for the stuffed bear, missing. A clutch

of cheesecake. A buttermilk biscuit. Each time
my lips swelling, breath skipping. They pace the E.R.
Did we break the baby? My mother dissects labels:
casein, protein, lactylate. Easier to cook from scratch.

My father perfects Shhh, it's not that bad, you can breathe.
. They cradle me in Benadryl. That's the secret
of marriage: bleary silence in white rooms. Too busy
not-breaking me to take the wrecking ball to each other.

Sandra Beasley

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