Small Gestures

by Marianne Forman

It’s the little things
Making sure there is a jar of Lysol wipes in every car
at every door entrance
even using one jar as a door stop

Offering to fetch vanilla creamer for me at the Piggly Wiggly
sugared clouds for my coffee
after waking at 3 am

Wiping down the door handles
until your palms are raw
and you smell of sterilized sanitation

Washing your hands before you hold mine
asking Are you ok?
And when I nod
unable to make eye contact
you ask Are you sure?

You remind me
I haven’t been sick
in almost seven years,
even though meds
designed to blunt
my entire immune system
are pulsing in my blood
doing their work.

You remind me
that even at Kara Tepe Refugee Camp,
a village filled with coughs and rashes
and people seeking asylum,
even there
where I welcomed refugees
to the camp clothing store
holding their feet in my hands
hoping for an acceptable fit of shoes,
even there
my lungs did not succumb.

You remind me
Love over fear.

Marianne Forman is now nurturing her own creative spirit after teaching middle and high school English for 32 years. She has spent three summers in Guizhou Province, teaching best practices to teachers in China. She received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal (2003) and Turkey (2009). Marianne participated in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop (2016).  Marianne’s poetry appears in Muddy River Poetry Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Jelly Bucket Journal, among others.  She has a collection of poetry forthcoming in 2020 from Shadelandhouse Modern Press. Sabiyha Prince is an anthropologist, artist, and author based in Washington, DC.  Her books and essays explore urban change and African American culture, and her paintings and photo collages grapple with memory, identity, kinship and inequality.

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