October has offered the Matron and her family its usual bluster and blow: crisp mornings and cold houses, rooms that were once hot now requiring slippers and long sleeves. This month also introduces the entire state to the Head Cold (aka Cough or Sniffles) who will never quite leave until April, simply changing form and crouching in dark corners, waiting to retool and leap again. Head Cold is a seamless entity -- if not nestled solidly in your own house, he is visiting the neighbor until it is time to cross the street and slip through your window, again.
Merrick has missed three days of school. Head Cold has shimmered into the shape of Cough for awhile, bouncing back and forth between Merrick and Scarlett. The Matron imagines him a thin veil, spread between her family, in various stages of advance and retreat for the next few months.
Head Cold, in honor of your arrival, one of the Matron's favorite poems:
Life With Sick Kids
One child coughs onnce
and is sick for nearly eight weeks, then the other child coughs so
hard he nearly vomits, three weeks, and then
stops and the first child cuoghs a first cough,
and then the other delicately and dryly begins to cough,
death taking them up and shaking them
as kids shake boxes at Christmas. So in bed on the
third day of the blood when it would be
almost safe to use nothing,
just a tiny door left open for a resourceful child,
I cannot see or feel or smell you, I keep
thinking I hear the unconceived one
cough a little introductory cough.
Head Cold made a strategic turn into Fever and felled young Merrick, that quick. No school in the morning, as he is nursing a temp of 102. Oh, Head Cold, you have mercurial timing. Tomorrow the Dean is going to attend the Matron's morning class, to review her for Style and Pedagogical Flair. She even ironed her clothing for the occasion. And tomorrow, Scarlett must be conveniently driven to a workshop in the far west and rehearsal in another state (No Mary Poppins-Frau Schmidt till Tuesday) while another parent must attend a meeting at Stryker's school. Call down, Head Cold! We have a long season ahead.