I’m sick. At least, I think I’m sick. Almost everyone I know in Portland seems to have been assailed by a combination of seasonal allergies and a doesn’t-amount-to-much cold virus, and I am no exception. I was hit by this plague weeks ago, and it’s returned to me with a vengeance. I am stuffy and coughing, and now, no doubt thanks to too much medication and too many vitamins, I am feeling drowsy and pathetic. (I am also feeling pathetic because, as you may have already seen if you’re on Facebook, I dropped a book on my face last night, and it left a bruise. Pa-thetic.)

So I wrote a poem. Enjoy, or don’t. I’m off to drink tea and feel sorry for myself, and I don’t much care what people think of me (or my poetry) right now.

I’ll try not to return until I’m in a better mood.

by Jessica Lynne Henkle

Here’s what you do: assume everything is poison. All
that you touch has the potential to kill–after each
contact, hands must be washed.

You are the opposite of Midas. Whatever would turn to
gold in his fingers is a virus in yours, crawling up wrists and
arms to find an opening, and fester.

So don’t kid yourself with precautions–illness will come,
and you, you will give it rest in your mouth, your chest, will
taste it on your tongue. You’ll swoon.

You are a wound, a wheeze, a health and wellness tease,
biding days between colds coyly courting the next in
supermarkets, Walgreens, and barre class.

A woman unfaithful, you hide Kleenex in pockets, stock up on
zinc and Emergen-C drinks. In bed, you squeeze a pillow and
simmer, knowing it’s only a matter of time.