When Being Polite Is a Losing Game
A COVID-19 Poem
You can’t do everything right.
In these times, the smallest thing
can lead to disaster, which
has a new definition: death.
Here is my list of what may kill me—
not today, but in a week or two
when the danger is forgotten.
I may not wash my hands long enough.
I may wash my hands too much
and leave fissures for infection.
I may run out of wipes. I already
suspect the Bath and Bodyworks
hand sanitizer is not real. It smells
like peaches and that can’t be good.
I have everything delivered but
today the guy handed me the bags
by the straps and his hand touched
mine. I may die of being Southern,
incapable of being rude enough
to insist he set the bags on the porch
and leave so I can breathe. That is my fear,
the others mere decoys. I will die
and if I do, my niche needs to say,
Here lies Lanette. She was too polite.
Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.
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