By nature I am vigilant.

These days, I watch everyone with extra care:

the clerks in the coöp, the pharmacy, the feedstore

where we buy food for the dog and cats and birds,


my friends. Oh, I trust my friends, but—

the friends of my friends? 

Where have they been?

How can they do me harm?


This morning, walking the dog

on the sidewalk in town, pulling

my mask up whenever I saw someone coming

 a block away, I found myself tired


of myself. We’re all just trying to get by,

doing what we can, what we think is right.

And what malevolence do I carry,

what contagion is concealed behind my mask?