Picture 52
Masks
by Joan Colby

Our daughter is at the door with
A plastic baggie containing two masks
And some alcohol wipes. Ordered from China
A month ago,they have finally arrived
In time, we hope, to save us.

I contemplate if you had survived
How would we have managed—getting you to the
Clinics for the treatments that kept you alive.
These clinics might be closed like
Everything else. To shelter in place, for you
Would have been suicide.

Anyway, you died before that could
Happen. One bad thing, at least, that you
Dodged. You could hardly breathe—
How would you have tolerated this mask?

O my unmasked love, I’m glad you didn’t have
To bear any more even if, for me, it seems
Unbearable
To venture into the poisoned world
With a white cup over my face
Like a muzzled animal—no words, no cry.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written after the death of my husband on Feb. 27 just before the Covid-19 virus hit us. This poem will ultimately be part of a book to be called The Salt Widow.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010). Her poems are winners of the 2014 and 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She also was selected as an International Merit Award Winner in the 2015 Atlanta Review contest She has published 22 books including  Selected  Poems, which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize  “and Ribcage, which won the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her latest books are Her Heartsongs  from Presa Press, Joyriding to Nightfall from FutureCycle Press and Bony Old Folks from Cyberwit Press. She has a new book forthcoming from The Poetry Box titled The Kingdom of the Birds. She is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review.