When Your President is Insane and You are Washing Your Hands Twenty Times a Day

by Dotty LeMieux


You might not think these things are connected
the rambling disjointed press briefings
the directives from the CDC
steps we follow when doing
the distance disco
the seventy-nine year old head
of Infectious Diseases from the NIH
who still puts his hands up
to his face when the leader of the Free World
says something profoundly dumb

later you might drive to Tomales Bay to eat
sandwiches in the car and walk
along the beach at low tide and watch
the fancy footwork
of fishermen keeping their balance
on the rocky shoreline, while
cows on the opposite bank
make moving silhouettes
against the rain-greened hills

at home, you avoid
turning on TV until you wash wash wash
your hands singing
Happy Birthday or Sweet Caroline
or Row Row Row your Boat
until your fingers are as pruney
as those of a Russian
masseur in an overheated sauna

and when you have walked the dogs 
and see, to  your surprise, again —
as it is always a surprise these days —
the budding of spring   
regal blue crocus, imperial daffodils
golden poppies waltzing with their lupine lovers
to the thrumming beat
of nature  pulsing  through their roots

and you have come home and performed
the hand-washing polka
yet another time, and have fed the dogs, 
in that minute, between Judge Judy
and the five o’clock news,
which will only repeat
the daily death toll
the casualties
the common cruelty
of the new normal

only then, will you look to the sunflowers
on the ledge beside your window,
slow dancing,
turning their shaggy yellow heads,
a little later each day,
to the not quite syncopated rhythm
of the last ballet
of a dying regime.



Dotty LeMieux works as an environmental lawyer and campaign consultant in Marin County California, where she lives with her husband and two dogs. Her work has appeared in publications such as Rise Up Review, Beautiful Cadaver Social Anthologies series, Writers Resist, MacQueen’s Quinterly. Poets Reading the News, Gyroscope Review, and others. She has three had chapbooks published and edited the poetry and art journal Turkey Buzzard Review in northern California until the mid-1980’s. A new chapbook, Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune, is scheduled to be published by Finishing Line Press in December. 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.