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Tuesday, May 10, 2022


by Pat Snyder Hurley

Illustration by The New York Times to accompany “America, Unmasked” by Pamela Paul, May 8, 2022. Photograph by George Marks/Getty Images.

is the new undressing performed
only with those we trust no matter
how illogically
and never with strangers no matter
how perfect unless
there is indoor dining involved
and the promise of conversation
and everyone is doing it.
Grocery-shopping isn’t intimacy
worthy of risk, but dinner
parties are, even with friends
who went maskless at Costco
and carpooled with teens
who went maskless at school
because who would have the chutzpah
to ask.
And so pockets are handy
and zipper purses and
consoles in cars—
all good for mask-stashing
in case someone you know
or don’t
is wearing one
or not.

Pat Snyder Hurley is a Pushcart-nominated poet living in Columbus, Ohio, where she also writes a local humor column, “Balancing Act.”  She co-authored the chapbook Hard to Swallow with her late husband Bill Hurley (NightBallet Press 2017), and her poems have appeared in literary journals including Pudding Magazine, Poydras Review, and the Passager Journal