My by-product is small mountains of used Kleenex. I took a test in an allergist’s office in which he injected my left arm with serums (sera?) containing, respectively, tree pollen, dust mites, grass, dog, and cockroach. Little mounds of red at regular intervals under my skin. I waited for ten minutes to see which would itch; those were what I was allergic to. Where do you get essence of dog? Is that in a medical catalogue?
Ten minutes later: positive for all allergens except dog.
I am most allergic to spring. The world thaws and blooms, and my sinuses swell and tickle and spout fountains.
“Can you, um, do your best to throw these away?” C says politely, walking to the trash can with a wadded-up tissue he found between the couch cushions. When I blow my nose, it sounds like a poorly-tuned horn in a bass/tenor pitch. Mornings, sardined on the A train between silent commuters, my giant, distended teacher’s bag on my lap, folded magazine poised in front of my face, I pray I’ll make it to Nostrand without having to blow my nose. It grosses people out. They don’t say anything, but I can tell. The way I sound, it’s like I’m doing it on purpose. Like when a big frat guy burps loudly.
“I look like death,” I complain in the morning, examining my red-rimmed eyes in the mirror. I have the palest complexion at my 99% Black school already, and now I’m red-eyed with dark blue circles underneath, a symptom of congestion; I’m an an Irish fucking corpse.
“Maybe if you got rid of the sickle,” C says helpfully as I leave the apartment.