It hit me,
helping my listless kid into the backseat
and then reaching, tissue in hand,
to swipe at her sister’s runny nose:
It’s impossible to stop.

Her incessant stuffiness, yes,
and that junky cough that won’t quit—
but even more, it’s impossible to stop
this cycle of constant motion.

I thought all this
while shifting into reverse
and tapping at the map on my phone
and passing a sippy cup to the back
and unwrapping a piece of red candy
masquerading as medicinal balm
for my sore throat.

The sloughed-off wrapper landed softly
among the library books beside me,
but the lozenge’s marketing slogan
kept looping through my head:

The show must go on,
it urged, or perhaps warned,
since I felt a sense of deep foreboding
that our show was teetering
on the brink of collapse.

Still, the car raced forward
toward the bland medical office building
where we would join the universal
meet and greet for our germs
and theirs—

to connect briefly
with the kind doctor who,
in a different era, would have entered
into the intimate domain of our home
to take it all in,
and then thoughtfully scrawl
our needed prescription:
Slow down.

© 2012, Sarah Dunning Park. All rights reserved. Used with permission.