This is an Allergen-Free Poem

This is an allergen-free poem.
It will not give you seizures, rashes, hives,
or itchy, watery eyes.

It’s a gentler creature –
a kitten among wolves.

It has questions.
Why can’t food just be food?
– because it’s more expensive that way.
Why does my diet have to be a FAD?
-so others won’t start asking questions.

The year I learned the word ‘gluten’
is the year I learned I couldn’t have it.
These days, even the word incites riots.

I want to riot against riots.
But I can’t, because I might get sick.

The year I learned about gluten,
I learned about GERD.
I learned about Proton Pump Inhibitors.
-They fed me one after the other, in quick succession, four, no five – or was it six?
until I said ‘this one is less painful than the last’ rather than
‘this one makes me feel better’ and accepted that as good enough.

I learned how to mask the pain.
-I was not taught how to heal.

My skin turned to tissue paper.
I thought I would bleed my way to the bone.
There were more pills then, and supplements, and more pills.
-Pills to hide my suffering. Pills to buy my silence.
Ten in all – taken daily.

The year I learned about gluten I learned about GERD,
The year I learned about GERD, they shoved a tube down my throat
in the name of science.

When the tube came out, they said, “Yup. We were right” and
Charged me $1000 for the handshake.

The handshake gave me a rash.
The year I learned about Gluten and GERD,
I learned about chemicals, about fragrance, about petroleum…
and about a system so broken it was breaking me.

I learned about the mascara that nearly swelled my eyes shut,
the shampoo that gave me psoriasis,
the soap that gave me eczema,
and the handshake that gave me hives.
– I learned to wear gloves, and carry aloe vera everywhere I went.

I learned the word allergy, up close, like a whisper,
A secret that’s dirty, and untoward.

I was told I react “out of habit”,
and that I just needed to go “live in a bubble”.
-It was joke. Ha Ha. That’s hilarious.

I learned to unlearn everything I’d been taught,
because I had been lied to.

I couldn’t trust anything, anymore.
Not books, not friends, and certainly not “fads”.

But, this is an allergen-free poem.
I’m safe here, in my own words,
Which are not now,
and have never been,
A Fad.