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by Angie Raney

In and out
and back
and forth.

I imagine my breath
as hot plumes of air,
trapped in a bubble
of my own being.

the heat seeps through cloth
and it makes me
but no more unsettled

by the thought of sickness.

I think,
a mask can protect from many things:

a virus
a sneeze
polluted air

but what a mask cannot shield us from
is the disease
of prejudice,
of racism,
of hatred.

the plague of
an inequality
so evil and vile
does not inflict.

It poisons.
It revels in injustice.
It kills.

Oh, how I wish there was a mask
to filter hate.

My breath is hot and sticky,
but my breath is still mine
and this
is a privilege.

In and out
and back
and forth.

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angie Raney is a soon-to-be-junior at DePaul University studying Creative Writing, Spanish, and Anthropology. She originally hails from Hopkins, Minnesota, and is the youngest of four daughters. Her poetry and prose have been recognized by You Make Me Feel Less Alone twice, and Angie is also presenting her piece, How to Be Mentally Ill, at DePaul’s 2020 Spring English Conference.