Poem of the Week

PPE

Angelo Mao

You are double-gloved, meaning your skin is three layers and one sweats.
Your sweat seeps in your palm like stomach sour into its folded flesh. Is
your hand a stomach turned inside out or a lawn whose grasses hurried
into this uninterruption. Something out there survives endocytosis to wear
through and through skin except for the skin you wear over warmth and
ready to wear any definition. Inside the room are the biosafety cabinet of
metal backing polished glass and the resinous flooring flowing under the
door like poured oil. But the inside and outside are different like life and
death. You are wrapped in the feeling of you can get deep inside the
subject and not carry it back. Not on your skin wallpapering the insides of
your closed mouth and throat or your bronchi whose hollow wrists you
can feel punching into the chest cavity like a bird dive bombing a subway
station soils your sandwich sings. There are two of you listening. Yourself
and the guy who cleans and wears wired earbuds that dangle when
bending as if in deference. You watch him bend to bundle gowns that you
contaminated with use. You watch his shirt lift over a mouth of skin. Is
that it or is his skin lifting its tongue over shirt that bends to bundle. His
skin you can tell feels nothing. Which is the same nothing you only feel
because you know how exposed skin has feeling only in the wind.

Angelo Mao is a postdoctoral research associate at Harvard Medical School. His first book of poetry is Abattoir.
Originally published:
July 28, 2021

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