At the Center for Autism Research

The doctor draws a series of complex diagrams.
Behind me, the bird is swinging wildly in its cage.

In the first of three graphs, tin is a color,
mercury a sunset, aluminum a stick-figure drawing
of a girl holding a small boy’s hand.
I realize that the methylation chain is filled with sorrows.
The doctor speaks methodically
as she traces a circular path with her finger.
I repeat the names of the essential aminos,
attempting to commit all ten to memory.

I purchase three bottles before leaving the office.
I tell the receptionist that I know what it means
to heal wounds and repair tissue,
that I know where to find a cool, dry place to store them.

Tomorrow, I will snap open the capsules,
stir vigorously,
force you to swallow.
You will hate me with your eyes
as you gasp for breath.

I will swallow handfuls when my heart grows weak,
when there’s no more energy for diagrams or theories,
when all the good bacteria have died like bees.

The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Rosemarie Dombrowski. Used with the permission of the author.