Napo 19

Mask Making
              For Martha, Who Made Masks During the COVID-19 Pandemic

She said, “I will cover you in with the blood of Christ,”
As she handed me a mask she’d made from cloth.
Roses bloomed. And when I slipped it over
My blooming smile, I felt like I, too, was spring
Again, reborn and brave to face the world outside.

We couldn’t hug. I couldn’t touch 
the warmth of her hands
that made this mask, this gift,
And I imagined her, spilling out bits of fabric,
Choosing this one, the rosy one, to make
A set of masks for me, to cover me in red
The color of the paintbrushes blooming outside,
The hue of suffering and resurrection,
The shade of miracles.

My suegra has half a lung left.
Cancer ate the rest, and so she heaves
As she breathes, but damn, she breathes
And keeps on breathing everyday.
A walking milagro, she calls herself.

She sits at her sewing machine all afternoon,
Cussing and praying and singing and crying
For the world and for me who must go out into it.
The world is a terrible, dangerous place
of wildflowers and roses and thorns and death.
She stitches a bit of herself into each mask
She makes as she pricks her finger again,
and gets back to the magic work
That women like her have done for centuries:
Survival. You must believe the impossible,
a slip of fabric, the blood of Christ,
can keep the hordes of viruses at bay,
and she closes her eyes and I know,
in my heart, that all will be well.