Flimsy as a napkin,
potent as a missile shield.
A mask kept me alive all year--
that, and sharing air with no one
but my husband,
bumping from one wall to another
in our small apartment.
I enter your house, Karen, still masked,
to find you—a woman of science--
So I stuff the mask in my hip pocket.
and notice the clean, just-spring sun
elating your windows.
You pour champagne in two crystal glasses.
We, fizzing, light candles
on chocolate ganache.
Happy birthday to me.
Hugs and flowers appear
on my calendar.
And I, unlike my usual self,
who’s sure life’s better over there--
like Gatsby staring
at the orgasmic green light
at the tip of Daisy’s dock--
Jacqueline Coleman-Fried, a poet and essayist living in Tuckahoe, NY, just had the best birthday ever, thanks to the COVID vaccine and a dear friend.