Bus riders shout about the plague in America,

how God, family & faith are the ways to get through.

She believes in holy shit & science.

She steps out of the bus without touching anything,

except her iced venti tea, & a paper straw covering

she twists around & around in her left fingers,

as if it were prayer beads or a Catholic rosary.

Praying for an empty street at Skillman Ave.,

she breathes a masked sigh of relief; a new day begins!

As she surveys a crammed Queens Boulevard ahead—

the world is still moving along,

even when most people are staying still.   

Police officers crowd around 

in the Grand Central Station mezzanine.

Two of them board the 7 train, 

partially masked, their noses visible.

In the subway car, to my right, 

a woman speaks to her daughter in Spanish, 

her face in full view.

Does she see the police officers in the back?

Does she care at all about the rest of us?

Can she not breathe with a mask on?

I stay a safe distance from both conversations;

my mask snug on my face,

the train smells like cleaner.

Will we get cleaner?

Will strangers ever see my lips again?

Will I still be late for work? 

Thanks to the current climate,

I’m pliable as a piece of dough

made for baking—

Today’s heat

now saps all my energy; 

the extra weight 

has made me feel slower; 

fear has infected my system 

like simple gluten.

People are still making

sourdough bread,

posting it online, Zooming it…

I have no time or desire 

to make sourdough bread.


I feel sour in the head;


my body feels like bread—

& I need

to snap myself out of it;

to metaphorically

punch myself 

into a new attitude—

Next week

will be different;

us librarians

will be no longer resting 

& covered up with damp towels

in a bowl (or tub).

Our brains will be useful again,

but the air outside

is still shaken with certain illnesses.

The thought of it

sours me whole;

a lot of good bread

is already infected 

& where can we eat at work?