Sounds of Slight Sickness

Coughing and crying and the I’m done at the table

Me saying no you’re not because you haven’t eaten

My wife silent, watching, waiting

Calling in the night, three times for me

I didn’t count the times for Dawn

The deal is when she’s up, I’m sleep

When I’m up slumping in darkness to the boy, the pillow covers her head

One hundred and a few points is what the daycare told Dawn

No words

That was how we knew for real

The boy always had words

Especially in the car

Especially after daycare

There were buses to be greeted

Fire trucks to be confused with ambulances

People to be spoken to and waved at

No words

My wife saying we needed to call the doctor

Me doubting that but not out loud

Grandmother talking while we rode to the doctor

Sighing inside my head and upon my lips because we were late

Horns and cabbies shouting because everybody else was late too

Go on up and I’ll meet you there

The whizz of the car pulling off

My breath breathing as I ran to the building

The punch of the elevator button as I pressed the four

Me saying that we were really on time and Dawn saying right

Screaming was Bryce’s greeting of the nurse practitioner

He yelled and didn’t stop

It’s slight, she says, describing the sickness in his ear

She said it was nothing to worry over

Did she know all we’d done was worry

We left letting the slip of a prescription crumble in our hands

No words, again, from the boy in the car

He fell asleep that night to the sounds of who knows

I was out listening to runners running and weights clacking

I heard him wake up and call though

The wordlessness wrestling between me and Dawn

Who would go

Me, of course, since she’d laid him down

Me, of course, since he had called for me before sleeping

Me, of course, because I always wanted him to know I was there

I heard me stiffen as I went to rub in his back, saying nothing for another night

His bed offered a crip or a crick or a crack as he mumbled

We’d wait three days and call the doctor again

There would be wailing when he returned to daycare

There would be words of comfort from the doctor

Things said and heard about waiting or running courses

The bing of the doctor’s text when she followed up

White medicine gulping down his throat

All those things would add to the chorus of the latest slight sickness

For now, bending in the dark to hush my son, there would be no words.

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