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.

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