Archives for posts with tag: essential workers

licensed mehul agrawal
House Sparrows
by Kelley White

–after Mary Oliver

–for Annie, Janine, Frances, Kathleen & Linda

You do not have to be brave.
You do not have to come into work
when the disease flares
or chemotherapy
leaves you retching.
You only have to let the dear spirit of your
body heal
when it heals.
Tell me about your pain, yours, and I will listen
despite mine.
Meanwhile this life goes on.
Meanwhile the children laugh and the sweet bubbles of
their laugher
are singing across the ghetto
over abandoned houses and crack vials,
over the empty lots and projects.
Meanwhile the brown and gray sparrows, busy in the dull
gray sky
are building their nests.
I know you, I think of you living alone,
I praise your hope and dedication,
I watch you work like the sparrows, steady and
faithful,
building and rebuilding your peace
in the anger of life.

Published in Philadelphia Poets, July 2008

PHOTO: Sparrow building a nest. Photo by Mehul Agrawal, used by permission. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This older poem came to mind when I began reading the wonderful work in the PRIME MOVERS Series. Many of my co-workers, the mainstays of the urban neighborhood health center where I have worked for nearly three decades, are older women with underlying health conditions. (Actually, that group includes me.) Throughout the pandemic they have continued to arrive daily to serve their duties as the unsung workers in the health field—reception staff, medical record clerks, medical assistants, telephone operators—often needing to take several types of public transportation. Many are well past retirement age (two are in their eighties!) but are still the major wage earners in their families. They face anxious and challenging patients with few thanks. I hope I remember to respect and thank them.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This 1989 photograph shows a pregnant me (right) with one of my favorite medical assistants. We worked together from 1983 till about 1990 in an urban community health center. Remarkably, I still work with a medical assistant who was at the center several years before I joined, which is nearly 40 years ago. I spent 1983-2008 at a federally qualified health center in a tough part of Philadelphia then moved back to my home state, New Hampshire, to be near my mother in the last decade of her life, working at a rural FQHC from 2008-2018. I never thought I’d return to Philadelphia but after my mother’s death at age 91, I found myself with grandchildren in the city and returned to the original health center, finding an aging but still dedicated staff and now see many grandchildren of my original patients.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

PHOTO: The author with granddaughter Evelyn.

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PHOTO: Shoppers practice social distancing while lined up at Costco (April 2020). Photo by Kathy Images1, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been a health-care worker for In-Home Support Services for over three years and was a private care provider before that. As an essential worker, I do the shopping and other legwork so my client can stay home and not be exposed to COVID-19. I couldn’t tell you how much of what people feel in the first-responder line is shared necessity, how much is shared time with others serving our communities, or how much is an enforced time-out that lets us regroup.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer with an MFA from California State University, Long Beach. His work has appeared in San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and is slated for release by Tebor Bach Publishing in 2020.

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Graphic by Yekaterina Nalimanova, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My Aunt, who resides in an upstate New York state nursing facility, is the topic of this true poem. She is grateful to the dedicated medical staff, both caregivers and companions. Her family is most grateful that she is safe and hope to be able to resume in-person visits soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie A. Dickson is a New Hampshire poet whose work addresses nature, current events, animal welfare, elephants in captivity. Her poetry has appeared in various journals, including Ekphrastic Review, Poetry Quarterly, Blue Heron Review, The Avocet and The Harvard Press. She is a member of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, and has coordinated workshops as well as 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Her full-length works of poetry and Young Adult fiction can be found on Amazon.

DHARNI 2
The Bubble Gum Effect
by Vandita Dharni

Relentless efforts of the caregiver have spawned atoms of resilience and kept dad sprightly and positive despite battling with the immobilizing Parkinson’s disease. This short-statured, unassuming lad regales his patient by administering tidal waves of laughter to combat the avalanches of depression that would have otherwise surfaced.

Raj can heave up a patient almost five inches taller than him like a professional WWF wrestler. He is a true companion, taking dad for regular walks within the periphery of our home and keeping him well-groomed with a meticulous sense of hygiene. He keeps a track of his doctor’s appointments, medication schedules, and physiotherapy despite Dad’s restricted movement due to his age, the Parkinson’s disease, and now the fear of contracting the ghost virus that stalks us.

Since the onslaught of Covid-19 in April, Raj has voluntarily taken up lodgings at our home as commuting everyday would put the family at risk, especially our 80-year-old dad who has low immunity and a B-12 deficiency, the result of his strict vegetarianism. Our Man Friday ensures that the diet contains adequate nutrients to prevent osteoporosis and further complications. Fruits, salads, and cheese have fostered Dad’s immunity and kept the doctor away and depression at bay so far. Raj’s comforting presence soothes Dad’s irritability that often stems from dementia and childish stubbornness, particularly his insistence on wanting to venture out despite the hazards of the deadly virus.

I often find them laughing at ludicrous jokes on the phone or when our handy man is tickling a funny bone that erupts in guffaws. Seeing Dad happy, evokes a sense of relief that in these challenging times, we still have love and laughter sticking to us like bubble gum.

PHOTO: Selfie snapped by Raj.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Covid-19 has crippled the lifestyle of people across the globe, including the city of Chandigarh, India. However, we are blessed to have a wonderful and compassionate caregiver for our dad. Our dad is an 80-year-old army veteran grappling with Parkinson’s disease. Raj has been a constant companion who keeps motivating dad to be positive, and so far we have been able to ward off the threat of the virus. Raj has worked as a Patient Care Assistant at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), a medical and research institution in Chandigarh, a leading tertiary care hospital of the region that caters to patients from all over Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vandita Dharni is an acclaimed poet, scholar and, a gold medalist from the University of Allahabad, India. She has a Ph.D.  degree in American Literature from the same university. Her articles, poems, and stories have been published in many journals, including Criterion, Ruminations, GNOSIS, HellBound Publishing House, as well as International magazines such as Immagine, Poessia, Synchronised Chaos, Poleart Albani, Sipay, Fasihi, Guido Gozzano. Her books include The Oyster of Love,  Rippling Overtures, and Quintessential Outpourings, and she is the proud recipient of the Poetic Galaxy Award 2018, the World Poetic Star Award 2019, and the Rabindranath Tagore Award 2020. Her work recently appeared in Our Poetry Archive.

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March/April 2020
by Attracta Fahy

My son calls from Los Angeles, six
thousand miles from home,
lockdown already begun—

“Sleeping at the hospital”

his visit home cancelled.

Next day I call him; no answer
Messaged—
What’s up mom?
Busy here—All ok?

For three weeks—just texts;

12th March
Can’t talk
ok? Getting bad here

15th
Lost three patients today
Placing tubes in four

18th
It’s worse—working non-stop
you ok?

21st Mother’s Day—Ireland
army called in

Don’t worry you’ll see me when
it’s over

22nd
Ploughing on trying to see people
as more than patients, a number, a graph
on a screen, pictures in a camera

24th
Supplies arrived today—constant admissions
I love you mum

25th
When this is over I’m flying you to me

27th
Struggling not to think; the loneliness,
patients not allowed loved ones, only us.

28th
N95 glued to my face, we won’t all make it,
friend died, two colleagues sick in NY,
preparing for the worst

Don’t worry! taking vitamin C

29th
Will get worse before it gets better

Stay safe mum, worried you’ll get it

1st April
Shutting pumps moment after death
and on to the next—every room emergency

One body bag after another, eight this morning
others waiting for a ventilator.

2nd
First day off in eighteen; called back—surge

Tested—have antibodies, must have got it—
mild fever three weeks ago
thought it was exhaustion

3rd
Wish I could travel to help at home—
here is home too.

5th
It’s terrible here

7th
Robby tested positive, flying to New York
to see him, colleagues covering my shifts

11th
Robby passed—I’m heartbroken mum

Devastated

14th
I’m working—very low
I should be strong!

I call; horror and grief in his eyes
hair almost grey,
“I’ve seen too much, mum”

PHOTO: Empty freeway during early days of quarantine in Los Angles, California (March 2020). Photo by Drew Tilk on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My son lives and works on the frontline in Los Angeles. He has had a very difficult year and at present is feeling the consequence of the grief and trauma he witnessed and experienced over the past few months. Although sad, he remains positive, determined, and brave. He is lonely, but thankfully has wonderful friends and colleagues, a great sense of humour, a mischievous character who loves to make others feel happy. He is comical, entertaining, and very loving. When I started to write, I was overwhelmed with my own sadness, so as I want this to be about him, I decided to use some of his messages and texts to me over one month during the pandemic. It gives a sense of the connection between mother and son who are 6,000 miles apart. It is also in some part a diary and record of this time.

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AUTHOR’S NOTE ABOUT HER SON: My son Deacon Emmet Farrell moved from Ireland five years ago to train as an anesthesiologist in the State University of New York. His dream was to live in America. Despite dyslexia, he earned a degree with distinction in Genetics in University College Cork, afterwards earning a masters distinction in Molecular Medicine in London University UK. Following this, he began a postgraduate degree in medicine in University College Limerick. After finishing medical school, he began an internship in Beaumont Hospital Dublin before taking up his residency in New York. After qualifying with awards as an anesthesiologist,  he received a Fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles, and moved there in August 2019. In October, he contracted and overcame bacterial meningitis. His colleagues and the staff where he worked were exceptional in taking my calls and reassuring me. I was to visit for his graduation in July 2020, and he was due to visit home in August. But neither of us could travel because of the restrictions. During the pandemic, Deacon lost colleagues, patients, friends, and his close friend Robby. Despite this, he remains dedicated and committed to his work, deciding to stay on and live in Los Angeles. We miss him terribly in Ireland. Love and prayers to all of you.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken at JFK airport in New York City during April 2019, just before my son graduated as an anesthesiologist. We met at the airport as I arrived from Ireland, and he came straight from a night shift still in his scrubs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attracta Fahy’s background is Nursing/Social Care. She lives in County Galway, Ireland, works as a Psychotherapist, and is mother to three children. She completed her MA in Writing NUIG ‘17. She was October winner in Irish Times, New Irish Writing 2019, and is a Pushcart and Best of Web nominee. Her work has been included in a number of anthologies, shortlisted for Over The Edge New Writer, and Allingham Poetry. She was a featured reader at the January Over The Edge Open Reading in the Galway City Library. Fly on the Wall Poetry published her debut chapbook collection, Dinner in the Fields, in March 2020.

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Prayer for Infrastructure
by Rick Lupert

The prayer for being able to order food online

A hundred years ago
check that – fifty years ago
check that – ten years ago
our path to filling the refrigerator
and the cabinets, and ultimately
our stomachs and the stomachs of those we love
involved driving to the supermarket and
wandering its aisles with a cart we had
no license to drive.

We knew something might be up when
they started providing wipes for the handles
God forbid we should touch something
someone else has touched.

We can still put our masks on and
as long as we stay six feet from anyone who breathes
and honor the spaced-out marks taped to the floors
we can still search those aisles, though
the images of too many empty shelves
is haunting. As far as I can tell, there’s no flour
for a million miles.

But if we choose not to assume this in-person risk
the electronic Gods have provided us with
the buttons we need to bring the essentials into our homes.
The Freshs, The Instas, The Dashes, the Grubs
All we have to do is move our mice, or rub our fingers
across our personal devices and the staples of our existence
not to mention the fully prepared offerings of our
favorite in-person haunts, will arrive at our door
contact-free on the porches of our limitation.

No one goes hungry during this pandemic.

We will drink
We will eat
We will be sated

The prayer for being able to Zoom

Whoa is the person who lives alone during the pandemic.
their only friend being familial glimpses in the mirror

Whoa are the roommates who only have each other’s air to breathe.
Whoa are the spouses who originally agreed to til death do is part
but assumed there’d be breaks, right?

Whoa are the people who crave physical human touch
the huggers, the hand holders and shakers, the fist bumpers.
the sound of another breath missing from our track.

In another generation we’d have almost forgotten
the movement of lips, the blinks of eyes, the tenor of voices.

But today our electronic infrastructure allows us
to be in the same room as everyone we’ve ever known.

Our parents in whatever state they’re in.
Our regular crowds for Passover seders.
You want concerts? There’s more live music
broadcasting to your screens than anything ever-paloozad.

We are safer electronically together.
We are growing our beards and not just because of the Omer.
We are seeing the true colors of our hairs
on the head of everyone we’ve ever loved or wanted to love.
We are Zoom-zooming and adding the word live to
our entire online ennui.

We hardly had to learn how to do this.
It was already there when they turned off the outside.
We’ve been preparing for this the whole time.

So until we can go skin on skin
breath on breath again.

Thank you to the prophets of Silicon Valley
for making it so we can digitally commingle.
As it says in the very first story –
It is not good for us to be alone.

and thanks to them
we are not.

The prayer for front line workers

We used to be specific about who we
applied the word hero to.
Our doctors, and firefighting professionals
Our activists, and soldiers
Our law enforcement professionals
and the occasional politician who stuck to their morals.

We sometimes confabulate the words hero and fame
We’re in awe of our rock stars and movie stars
Certain authors get the royal treatment
and in some communities just being the person who tells you the weather
will get you a better seat at dinner.

We never considered the grocery store shelf stocker
the checkout person, the mail carrier
the one who brings us our boxes, often in two days or less.
How about the one who is willing to go into
the store for us, or the restaurant
to gather the things we need, or even just want.

Someone’s bringing me a new TV today because
I wouldn’t dare leave the house.

These people doing these tasks we used to think mundane
are literally, and I’m, literally not one to use the word literally
risking their lives so ours can continue to thrive.
I’d say they are our new heroes
but I think they’ve been our silent heroes this whole time.
Anyone who does anything to keep the world moving
so we are given the confidence to know that the
sun will keep shining on the next new day
is essential.

Blessed are people and everything they do.
Our world goes around on the back of their Torah.

SOURCE: The third part of this poem (The prayer for front line workers) originally appeared on the Union for Reform Judaism’s blog.

IMAGE: I and the Village by Marc Chagall (1911).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The thing that really struck me when the quarantine started…when we were being bombarded with images of empty shelves, and people were hoarding toilet paper like we had just lost the recipe to make it, was how I could immediately take advantage of the existing electronic infrastructure to have whatever I need brought to my house, keeping me safe and provided for. This isn’t something that needed to be put together, but which was already here. I can’t imagine how they did this during the last pandemic. Amidst this terrible situation, we are so lucky.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway  and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks, was released in March 2016. He’s authored 25 collections of poetry, including The Toyko-Van Nuys Express (Ain’t Got No Press, August 2020), Hunka Hunka Howdy, Beautiful Mistakes, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild,  A Poet’s Siddur, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Follow him on Facebook.

Author Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

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Thank you, Thanks you all.
by Joan Leotta

Driving North on I-95 in March During the Pandemic—Thank you to Everyone Along the Way, Thank you to the Workers Who Made Her Move Possible in the time of Covid.

Dogwood, redbud, already bloomed where we live in North Carolina,
now pop out from between leaf buds of their deciduous brethren in the more oaken than pine forests of Virginia as we glide north on an almost empty asphalt ribbon. Usually packed with cars and trucks, now only the occasional vehicle passes, and we hope that gas stations and state visitor centers are open for the necessities, gasoline, and rest stops. Lunch is packed this time to eat in the car as we drive up to help our daughter transition from her condo to a newly built townhouse.

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Arriving, we bear witness with her the empty streets in Washington, closed stores, restricted hours, and help her balance on the emotional tightrope of possible closure and the need to leave her old house to transfer her goods, to make a new place her home. Will cable be able to connect so she can work from home? Will the movers be considered “essential?”

Amid all that uncertainty, we, her parents, bring the spring of certainty that whatever else has changed, whatever strictures, sadnesses that Covid carries, she has our love and will survive any storm and that she will surely bloom.

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Yes, the workers were allowed to finish the construction, bankers met, movers came on time, garage door was installed, cable was connected, and we were able celebrate with dinner in her new home. We stood at the window, looked out, and raised a glass to thank them all, although we could not invite them in.

Graphic by BilltheCat, used by permission. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: When she is not playing with words on page or stage, Joan Leotta loves nothing more than sitting at table or walking the beach, laughing and talking with family. She spins poems, articles, essays, short stories, and performance pieces most often around her core interests—food, family, nature, travel, and strong women. Her poetry books include  Languid Lusciousness with Lemon (Finishing Line Press), Nature’s Gifts from Stanzaic Stylings (free online), and a mini-book from origami poems (free, but also printable). Another short collection will be released by Origami in 2020. Visit her at joanleotta.wordpress.com and on Facebook.

PHOTO: The author (left) with daughter Jennie and husband Joe.

Paul Kempner
The Trains Must Run on Time Even if the Cars Are Empty
by Howard Richard Debs

I have ridden the New Haven Line
on the Metro-North Railroad
coming in from New Rochelle
with stops along the way
at Pelham, Mt. Vernon East,
Botanical Garden, Tremont,
Melrose, Harlem
to end the run at
Grand Central Station
cathedral of train terminals
where people from all
these and other places
stream together in what
seem constant waves
filling the cavernous halls
to fulsome measure
for now, not so.
He works the Hudson Line,
starts at Poughkeepsie,
I’ve been there too, on
the way to Hyde Park
up the river to dine at
The Culinary Institute
of America, wondering
why the Hudson Line
didn’t extend that far;
it follows the river,
where the Sloop
Clearwater sails,
the organization emblem
of Pete Seeger’s dream;
soon they will restream
their Music Festival,
for now the virtual Great
Hudson River Revival
an annual call to
environmental action,
for now without echoes
on the river’s banks.
The train goes through
Beacon, Peekskill, Dobbs Ferry,
Yonkers, Riverdale, Yankees,
few tickets punched for that stop,
for now. He tells of
passengers who no longer
ride, the nonagenarian lawyer
who went into work in Manhattan
almost every day, and took the
last train going home. He’d
hold her bags and help her
down the platform. She
doesn’t travel into the city
for now, but he has her
number and they text each other—
for now.

PHOTO: Pictured is Paul Kempner, who has worked 22 years as a conductor for the Metro-North Railroad in New York. Photo by Stephen Wilkes, used with permission

Included quote from article by Marilyn Milloy, reprinted with permission, AARP The Magazine, Copyright 2020 AARP.  All rights reserved. Metro-North Railroad route map, used with permission

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The theme for this series is Prime Movers, focusing, rightly so, on the people who keep things going in these harrowing times, people like Paul Kempner. But infrastructure, institutions, organizations, also have a major role as prime movers in a real sense too. The Metro-North Railroad is one such entity. For information about an important way those who may wish to do so can help others during the pandemic and receive a special gift for such help go to TrainsMustRun and thank you for that.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. His new chapbook Political, (Cyberwit.net) will be released in October 2020. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming in 2021 from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory.

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The substitute rural postal carrier
by Eileen Mish Murphy

Even junk mail
can be exciting
when you’re retired
or quarantined

It’s fun to see
how many folks wait
behind their drapes
for
her truck
to arrive

The dirt roads
to backwoods trailers
are always flooded

So her van
always gets mired
in the mud

& sometimes
she has to leave
her vehicle

& walk through
a pack of outdoor dogs

to knock on a door,
carrying packages

while wearing
a mask

& clutching

pepper spray

PHOTO: Rural delivery from U.S. Postal Service. Photo by Tupungato, used by permission. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My sister, who is a rural postal carrier, is the person in the poem. The pandemic has increased her workload tremendously because everybody is buying things from the Internet, and so there are a lot more packages to deliver. 

PHOTO: The author (left) with her sister. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eileen “Mish” Murphy lives near Tampa, Florida, with her Chi-Spaniel Cookie. She teaches English and literature at Polk State College. Her poems have been published in numerous journals and literary blogs, including Silver Birch Press, Tinderbox Journal, Rogue Agent, and Thirteen Myna Birds. She is a staff writer for Cultural Weekly. A prolific book reviewer and visual artist, she has also done the illustrations for the highly acclaimed children’s book Phoebe and Ito are dogs written by John Yamrus. Fortune Written on Wet Grass was her first full-length collection. It was followed by the poetry chapbook Evil MeVisit her at mishmurphy.com.

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My Postal Lady
by Michelle Kogan

My postal lady stands at attention–
Warden style, pensive and alert–
Garbed in one of her multiple-well-fitted masks,
behind interweaving layers of
galactic-plastic-shields,
which guard her, and are
only interrupted at intervals
for human hands to pass packages
into her quasi-protected lair.
Although from our social-distant spot
she may appear unapproachable—
Don’t be fooled,
if you wait your turn
you may be surprised . . .
Watch her as she dutifully
intercepts and directs all
our precious pieces of mail.

She will, JUMP—
Though will never draw blood.
She did with me,
after handing me my
International mail form,
for my poetry package
off to another poet friend
in Australia.
Gruffly she said,
mail from our country sits for weeks
after arriving in another country . . .
I asked, “Can I come to the front
after filling out my form?”
—“NO—Get back in line,”
I did, and filled out my form,
while waiting with others,
six feet between us,
with more waiting,
and more waiting

it was my turn,
I moved forward—
She prompted me with mail questions,
continuing with full cognition,
I stumbled with my credit card,
apologizing with, I’m rarely out
and out of practice.
“I’m teaching online,” I said,
“and the post office is
one of the few places I frequent.”
“You’re teaching online,” she asked.
“How’s that going?”
Her daughter came into our conversation,
A missed cruise they were supposed to take—
“How is she,” I asked.
“Fine, covered from head to toe in protective gear,
like an amazon warrior ready for battle.”
We laughed together,
She lingered in conversation—
Always attentive to her task—
“How are you,” I asked.
She chuckled and
shared her daily ritual
after returning from work.
Voiding all worn—
Showering—
Selecting a new mask for tomorrow—
She’s received many masks from postal patrons,
and feels it’s only right to wear them.
Finally, she unwinds
with watching something.
Briefly we shared our universe . . .
We parted with thanks, and smiles.

Till next time—
My postal lady—
Dear postal lady
Be safe.

Till next time

A Chicago artist always writing poetry!

PHOTO: Post Office face mask by MadeBeyoutiful, available at etsy.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I draw, paint, and write stories and an unending output of poems. This flow began about 10 years ago with haikus—I’d write while on walks—and has grown over the years in amount, forms, and desire. I also started following a handful of poetry blogs, reading more poetry, and attending poetry workshops at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. I love the challenge and focus of poem prompts—to me they’re a puzzle waiting to be solved. A prompt is an invitation to write on something I may not have written on; it may bring ah-ha moments and spur on other ideas. I’ve always loved words. When I was very young I would underline and write down words I didn’t know so I could look them up. The magic came in the dictionary—there were rivers and rivers of words, and I went down many rabbit holes when looking for just a few definitions. And then there were pictures too, and I planned on studying art. I have these two equally powerful passions, writing and art—I have to do both, it’s like breathing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Kogan, a poet, writer, artist, and instructor, balances her writing and art with nature, critters, and calls from humanity, emerging from her Chicago roots and beyond. Her poems are in a handful of poetry anthologies, including The Best of Today’s Little Ditty Volume I, II, and III, and Imperfect: poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers. Her artwork is in the collection of The University of Illinois Chicago, Biological Sciences Department; the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, Illinois; private collections, the book Chicago Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness; and many catalogues. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Find out more at her website: www.michellekogan.com; her blog: www.moreart4all.wordpress.com, and her Etsy Shop: www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com.