We wash our hands for the front-liners, the nurses
and doctors who have disappeared, died, lost jobs,
got sick, isolated themselves to protect others—
those cherry blossom caregivers.
We wash our hands for the truth-tellers. The ones
who go public about a shortage of N-95 masks,
overwhelmed systems, the dangers of drinking aquarium
chemicals—those voices that use science to guide us.
We stay home for the firefighters, EMTs, janitors,
grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, warehouse
workers—that hive of bees who continue to work,
and feed our lives with their sweet cells of honey.
We stay home for the nurse who is managing our parent’s
care. The one who is a single parent of four kids now home
from school who calls our family to see how we are doing—
her small boat filled to the gunwale with compassion.
And when the world begins to find some order, let us not
forget the mountains they had to climb, the thin air they inhaled,
the demand of one more step. Let us offer to remove their
mud-caked boots—let us kneel—and tend their blistered feet.
Yours in poetry,