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it has become
the daily accessory
hated and loved alike
sign of bad times
and limited mobility

by some
   equanimously accepted
   as yet another fashion piece
for others
   a threatening symbol
   of prescribed orders from above
for many
   just a necessary nuisance
    that will go away in time

we certainly need to change
our reflexes upon the sight
of persons masked

    before Corona
         at least in our latitudes
    masks were a sign of robbers and bandits

    now it’s the good guys who wear them
    the bad guys who don’t
    and … how can we be sure of that?

a real challenge to find out
just from the movement of the eyebrows
whether you face a friend
or not
Face masks seem to be a serious problem for more people than one would think, for a variety of reasons. But they also force us to change our interpretations of visual perceptions..
b for short Apr 3
Assume the employee smiles as you
wait in line for a sanitized shopping cart.
Assume she has slight imperfections
in her front teeth as you do.
Tiny chips from hard candy mishaps
back in the early 2000s
that you choose to notice while
you examine your mouth in the mirror.
Assume that they're eyes are telling the truth--
they didn't wake up with a fever this morning,
and neither did the lady or her four kids behind you.
Assume by their relaxed body language
that we're all still safe from something we can't see.
Assume that since your own smile is naked,
somehow, you'll get out of this public place untouched.
It feels like you do. You hope, anyway.
Assume that the governor knows what's best when he says
"It is suggested that all citizens wear facemasks,
regardless if they're showing symptoms."
You put the peanut butter in the cupboard
and the paper plates on the counter.
You wash your hands for twenty seconds,
singing "Happy Birthday" twice, just like they said.
You touch your face because you assume you're clean.
Assuming your own risk, you pick up your phone and
in a rigid, robotic fashion, your search begins.
Assume you will see "out of stock" and "due to high demand,"
and assume that you will come up empty-handed, again.
You find her though,
a young girl who has made hundreds face masks to sell
on her online shop.
She asks you to select your pattern,
and as I scan my choices,
I imagine what would accompany my feverish face the best.
"Cats," I say to her through a series of clicks.
"Cats, and I think, I'll take the one with roses too."
© Bitsy Sanders, April 2020

— The End —