Newly added to the ritual:
hanging freshly washed
air-dried masks on
the back of the front door
so it’s easy to grab one on the way out.
You stack them in a certain order: on top
the favorite, then back up to the favorite,
back up to the back up, fancy dress, then last resort.
There they hang, playing their role,
reminding you of a danger
out there that you can’t see coming;
here is armor,
a hook full of cotton prayer. You’ll see them
the second you lift your favorite hat
from the neighboring hook and say to yourself,
“can’t forget this,” and then go on your way.
It’s now as much a part of your ritual
as clipping your knife to a pocket, tucking
pepper gel into a hoodie. Those
also sit close to the door when not in use,
reminding you of where you live
before you get out into it.
The phone, with its camera
and list of emergency contacts.
The car keys with the panic button
and the handy bottle of sanitizer.
The wallet that these days
offers no help at all.