On receiving the vaccine in a Walmart
I try to smile with my eyes
but I know I only look wary,
that my thin squint and weary lids
must read more like mistrust.
Is the Virus smaller than
the holes in my mask?
Is it smaller than the smell of popcorn–
than the scent of paperbacks
and floor wax
that in a different time would remind me
of record stores when dad was alive
or silent libraries of bended spines
where I was not needed,
and I was not seen–
I receive the needle.
Turnstiles beep but
no one checks the receipts.
Carts crash and those incessant bags–
like the sea in a shell to the ear–
rush around us,
our hands folded, we wait
for our throats to close
knowing if one of us slumps from a stroke
the girl in the blue smock will only
look on, wide-eyed beside
the locked-up Enfamil.