'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.