1) This Fear
This fear of the illness we might breathe in
from someone else’s lungs, that we might
touch into our bodies by turning doorknobs,
or sliding our hand along a railing touched
by some body carrying illness who touched
their mouth, their nose. This fear of touching
being touched by plague moves us apart.
Cut off, divided, I’m lifted
into sudden understanding:
We have all ways touched, hugged, kissed
each other. All our lives clasped in group
embrace. Now we must pull back,
flee the death some of us may carry
on our lips, our breath, our fingertips.
2) In the middle of washing my hands during the 2nd plague week
Like, burnt edged, aged manuscripts,
the words faded, blurred, I read the years
on the wrinkled-skin back of my hand.
Notice the fingertips rubbed smooth—
all those hard gardening years. No officer
could i.d. me from my prints; three tried.
My phone speaks! Asks me to teach it
to recognize my voice. Why am I so
horrified? My voice with all its loving
longing raging tremulous off-key
chanting across seven decades plus six.
In the middle of the second plague week,
these sustaining obligations:
Love in fear and longing.
Love in struggle.
Love in forgiveness.
Oh Love, please lift us all
onto the crest of Your next wave.
1) This Fear