This week from the Poet Laureates of Melbourne
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Andy Jackson


'Men more than women agree that wearing a face covering is shameful, not cool, a sign of  weakness” – Valerio Capraro and Hélène Barcelo, 'The effect of messaging and gender on intentions to  wear a face covering to slow down COVID-19 transmission'

It's easy to become thoughtless about 
my mouth and hands, what they can do.  
Why not breathe out into self-doubt?

It wounded, I admit, to feel myself freeze 
in my vehicle, daunted at the thought 
of being seen, as if I'd be coming out 

as a carrier of the virus or civil concern.    
Unorthodox in my shape, you'd think
I'd have become skilled at shrugging off

what curious children or that libertarian 
friend of a friend might say.  I am still
unlearning this inheritance, raised         

up to hover above it all, oblivious
to whatever might reside inside me.
Pathogens.  Histories.  Tenderness. 

Not far away, there are people struggling 
to breathe.  I switch off the car radio,
winter sun over my shoulder, climb out 

of myself in a small, mundane way.  
After all, what relief there is for a man        
to cover his mouth, give space, come home 

from the grocers with fresh vegetables.         

Andy Jackson is a poet whose first published book of poems, Among the Regulars, was shortlisted for the 2011 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. His most recent collection, Music Our Bodies Can't Hold, was shortlisted for the 2020 John Bray Poetry Award. He has co-edited disability-themed issues of the literary journals Southerly and Australian Poetry Journal, and has been a creative writing teacher and tutor for community organisations and universities.

Andy has featured at literary events and arts festivals in Ireland, India, the USA and across Australia, including Melbourne Writers Festival, Castlemaine State Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival and on ABC Radio National.

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