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Thursday, March 26, 2020


by Kelley White


the brain-injured man who always blesses me
from his porch beside the parking lot is calling down
the Full Power of the Living God on my head
and I am grateful; inside, on the counter in the ‘rash room
someone has left me three blue masks with elastic straps,
the kind house-painters use, and I am grateful,
the patients coming into the building for check-ups,
and bedwetting, and autism, and ADHD, and knee-
pain-for-a-year-and-a-half and stomach-ache-for-my-
whole-life are all wearing surgical masks. They won’t
tell me where they got them. I have stashed some
toilet paper, and I am grateful, perhaps we can trade.

Miss Aesha, my granddaughter’s pre-school teacher
has posted a virtual hug on instagram with her arms
stretched like angel’s wings in her beautiful spring green
veil and matching garment; my daughter has posted back
pictures of the family baking focaccia; Evelyn
is measuring and beaming—both parents are home
now that they’ve had to close the Cake Shop, and she
is grateful. Now the water is down. Planned work
on the century old water and sewer lines, and I am
grateful it’s not more. And that I have not lost my secret
stash of hand sanitizer. Yet. My staff are hitting me

with dozens of questions I can’t answer—is it true? my
cousin’s husband’s friend said if you’re over 80 you can’t
eat eggs or cheese; I have a knee replacement, is that
risky; my teeth hurt, is that a sign of the disease? Do I need
to cancel my colonoscopy, my MRI, my breast biopsy?
I’m a pediatrician, I’m grateful I don’t have to know
all this. But we have no ‘adult’ doctor. Our ob-gyn
doesn’t want to cancel her prenatals but she herself is 73.
None of us are young. I’m 65. Our phone operator
is 87! She won’t go home. She’s afraid she won’t get paid.
Hers is the only paycheck in her family. I promise her
she will. I’m grateful for her. She leaves after a half day.
Hers may be the only life I save.

Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.