haiku and text by Kristen Lindquist

Last week I endured a battery of allergy tests. I thought I was done with all that when I was a kid, when my entire back reacted to almost everything on the scratch test and I had to get allergy shots for years. They seemed to work for a while, and most people with chronic allergies grow less sensitive as they get older.

Alas, not I. (I blame global climate change.)┬áHence, the day at the allergy doctor’s office, where, once more, my back (and arms, this time) reacted to just about everything except a few things the shots seemed to have taken care of: no molds this time around, no trees except ash, no feathers. (Of course one of the biggest trees in my back yard, hanging right over the house, is an ash.) The usual trigger flowers–goldenrod, ragweed–plus “mixed grasses” and sagebrush (sagebrush?!) were also high on the list, along with good ol’ cats and dogs, and that ubiquitous allegen, dust. Seriously, who isn’t allergic to dust?

After being shown a video on how to dust-proof my bedroom (short answer: get rich, replace all your linens with hypoallergenic ones made by the video’s sponsor, install an air conditioner, and hire a cleaning lady to properly clean your bedroom once a week as recommended because who has time for that?), I was given some new prescriptions and sent on my merry way. Oh yes, and I’m supposed to keep the cat out of the bedroom. Or get rid of her. Obviously, the doctor doesn’t have a cat. I’ve lived with cats my entire life, so I’m going to work harder on avoiding the goldenrod instead. Because there’s not much of that around when one is out in the field hiking or birding…

But I got some good new drugs out of the visit, and a renewed respect for pollen. We can’t see it, yet it has the ability to make our lives truly miserable. At least the cat purrs and cuddles with you. Pollen just hangs in the air, insidious, waiting for that chance to enter your nasal passages…

So today working in my flower garden it was with no small horror that I looked down to see my left arm smeared with gold pollen. Big grainy pollen, gold as saffron, a beautiful color. Must have been from the day lilies. I seem to still be breathing just fine, so apparently it wasn’t anything I’m allergic to… yet.

On my tan wrist, smear
of gold pollen, fairy dust,
a forbidden kiss.