We all should wear the mask,
To filter the things we cannot see.
Not so much to keep things out
But to corral what tries to flee.
I aim to protect others from foul exhalation.
I try to be a good citizen,
Averse to the idea of contaminating others;
We are all responsible for our own pollution.
I am running my errands under the guise of cloth;
Grocery store, dry cleaners, gas station,
You can only see my eyes.
This furtive silence is a new banditry,
Passing coins and cards under Plexiglas.
I enjoy not being seen in plain sight.
The dead air trapped in front of my face
Is warm fetid discomfort, but mine alone.
Anonymous suffering is perhaps a way to atone.
We can always kneel and pray for expiation
But that’s not the same as forgiveness
Which is too personal, too intimate;
Usually requires an element of touch
And inevitably ends in a kiss.
But I’ve pinched the wire down
Over the bridge of my nose
And centered the mask over my lips.