My mother steps from the elevator
on a high floor, trailing me behind,
along curving walls within the cylinder building
‘til a door reads: Allergy Associates.
Dr. Melam, face round as a melon
and voice like aged gouda,
tests me for ragweed or pollen,
though usually I see the nurses:
Pat, voice thick as cocoa
and hair dark as olive,
who slips the needle–
or maybe I squirmed–
sending the silvery pinprick
careening through cubic miles of vein,
slicing my skin to tight ribbons,
or the tall one, after Pat leaves, whose name
I don’t remember, with fiery hair
that licks the sides of her face like flame,
then flattens at the top. She has cold hands.
One time I have what’s called
a reaction, and my forearm swells
pink like a balloon.
But mostly I pass the time in the waiting room
littered with magazines, or in the exam rooms
staring out angular windows, each one facing
a different direction, as I try and fail
to witness the balloon-bodies of the airplanes
wheeling low as marionettes towards O’Hare,
wondering how many feet higher I have to be
to touch all the people inside.