Natalie E. Illum

“if her allergens would keep to themselves./God forbid you have to be mindful/of dairy or cross contamination./...God forbid you ever worry/about the size and symbols/of a bathroom stall.”


if I’d just let someone carry me up the 4 steps. Easier
for chivalry to lift a body then watch my feet
scrape over the bricks, how my hands search
for the missing railing.

if her allergens would keep to themselves.
God forbid you have to be mindful
of dairy or cross contamination.
Of strobe lights or fragrance.
God forbid you ever worry
about the size and symbols
of a bathroom stall.

If only “helpfulness” would get your staring,
your slack-jawed excuses to quiet. At best,

it earns you my side eye; perhaps even
a verbal slap from the “community.”
At worst, the bar fight of my patience
against your ignorance. Why do you insist

you are an ally, when your best attempt is a sign
that says Don’t trip the artist. Remember she has trouble
getting back up, and we don’t want to be liable

for any type of seizure. Don’t feed the artist.
If she swells up and chokes, we couldn’t
call it stage fright. Wasn’t that creative?
How I didn’t even “out” them, how I glossed
up the shame.