The Forgotten Mask

by Jackie Oldham

Monday morning,
Cold and steel gray,
The old lady drove to the convenience store
With steely confidence
For milk and bread
To start her day.

She strode into the store,
Gathered her items,
And placed them on the counter.

The counter lady asked
“Where your mask, sweetie?”
The old lady cried out, high-pitch laughing,

“Oh My God! I left it in the car!”

And slapped her left palm over
Her mouth and nose,
While inserting her debit card        
To pay for her sundries.

Taking the shopping bags,
Left hand still serving as her mask,
She elbowed open the convenience store door,
Got back in her car,
And drove home, chagrined (but still laughing)—
Wondering how she could have forgotten
The damned mask.

Jackie Oldham is a writer from Baltimore, Maryland. She has read her work at local venues, for the Quintessential Listening: Poetry podcast (2019, 2020, and upcoming on February 10, 2021), and for the Black Poets Matter series, presented by Mad Mouth Poetry. Her essays have appeared as Editorials and Letters in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Her first short story, “Age-isms,” was published in midnight & indigo, an online and print literary journal featuring Black Women writers. Three of her poems have been published: “Golem Emet” and “I Don’t Want to Play The ‘Capitol’ of Edition of Clue™” in Oddball Magazine and “Just Another Covid-19 Saturday” in Global PoemicSabiyha 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.

One thought on “The Forgotten Mask

  1. Thank you Jackie; I jumped out of the csr not long and realized I’d forgotten my mask and clapped my hand over my mouth and nose. Then realized that wouldnt work; nor would wrapping my scarf around my face so I turned back, only to run into my husband with his hand out stretched with my mask…we had a good laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

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