Claudia Gary
Song of the Human Canary

[Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome] symptoms occur in relation to
measurable levels of chemicals, but the levels are below those known to
harm health… —AAFP Foundation

I will have borne the brunt of it
before you even notice
a scratchy throat, dinners that sit
uneasily—a soreness
you thought belonged to urban life.
By then my gait will swerve,
my senses clamour from the knife
that stabs each fragile nerve.

You’ll wake and rub your itchy eyes
from lavender perfume
that tickles them before you rise
and stumble through the room.

That’s when you’ll launch your marathon
to save the world. But I’ll be gone.