Standing in line
Waiting to pay
Weekly grocery shopping
Kevin’s off
Grabbing one last thing
We almost forgot
Guy queues up behind me
In a voice reserved
For meaningless chatter
About the weather
He asks
“Sooo, what’s your immigration status?”
At first
It really doesn’t register
When he asks again,
Louder this time
I look behind me
Fully expecting him to be
Asking some other poor soul
But no
He’s looking right at me
With a tight malicious smile
Of a middle school boy
Who thinks he’s won
A battle of wits
I realize how tired I am
Why should I have to
Trot out my family tree
My US passport
For every person who can’t image
This country has brown people
Here legally
As citizens, even
My left eyebrow
Reaches for my hairline
The only thing that saves
The fool
Is my husband stepping between us
To put the burger buns on the conveyor belt


Do your part
Know the science
Keep calm
Don’t stop living your life
Don’t talk about what hurts
Don’t add to the panic
Everyone feels overwhelmed
Relax, maybe
Get a massage
With a therapist who knows
How to have interesting small talk
To distract you from the knots
She’s untangling in your back,
Your life
Her hands find the tenseness
In your neck from worrying about
Your mother’s health
The knot just above your hip
From falling on the ice
Made tighter from listening to
A friend unable to unsee texts on her
Child’s phone
Muscles along your left collar bone
Stiff from chopping wood,
Sleeping on your side
With a pillow meant for
Sleeping on your back
Hands strong and patient
She pushes at the knots
Fading the pressure back just as you start
To cringe from discomfort
Sleepy and relaxed
When she is done
Winnowing the stress
From your body
Stealing the power of worry
Over you, for now
You thank her
Driving home
You begin to wonder
Where do her hands,
Knowing and holding all the painful
Secrets of a small town,
Go for therapy?