Infection

Yesterday evening I just know
I was fighting off something:
remember? at King Soopers,
bumping into Billie from the hill,
who’d moved away —
and the small animal clinic
where we had to take the cat,
his jaw swollen, the possibility of an abscess
and the threat of lockdown looming.
The man at the counter, way too close,
sniffling and hawking,
or mid-morning at the computer store
after my laptop had crashed,
each black letter of the alphabet,
once it had been fixed
and gone god-knows-where,
a poison pill, the whole keyboard
a box-cabinet of contagion.

Take your pick.
It could have been anywhere.
I only know I was fighting off something,
throat hot, tongue dry, my head
a late summer nest of soiled feathers,
twigs, the egg sacs of incubating spiders,
the birds gone, the fluid morning
giving way to inflammation,
the curtains and the dark.

I braved the digital thermometer in the end,
one of those things you stick in your ear,
the result announced freakishly
in a child’s voice:
“Your temperature is 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit,”
she said, as though speech was still
a little strange: she lived in a world
of ones and zeroes that never met.

Still, I’m sure there was something,
though I feel better now. Thank you.
All that may be left to fear
is my uncharitable skin,
this chamber, the chrysalis of our separateness.
The place where sex and philosophy
and streetfights all begin.
You over there. Me here.

Advice on introducing yourself, from a random Internet search

You’re at a formal gathering — say hello and state your name.
Say something like Hey, I’m first name.
You may also want to say the name of the other person first.
You’ll need to walk and stand with confidence.
Mention that you like to eat pizza and ice cream and going to the beach:
something they will find interesting and compelling,
like how you pour cold water down your back
because it helps you move faster and keep the right posture.

You’ll want a full, firm web-to-web handshake.
Test your handshake on several folks before important introductions.
Don’t stare down at some aimless point or at the corner of the other person.
Instead, be anything you are interested in.
Listen to my daughter —
she mentions that she likes to eat pizza
and ice cream and go to the beach.
Or you can just say Hi everyone,
it’s great to meet you Mary.