What we need
is plague doctors.
Oh, you laughed, in the garden,
a bloom hanging from every branch and stem.
You tossed your head back, showing perfect teeth--
the same ones that fall out now
in your sleep and in your tea.
I am not popular.
I admit it, and grow even less so now
for having been correct.
We need plague doctors, and where are they?
Where are the students, the masters, the institutions
that could have turned them out
where caution and courage intersect?
Very well, I'm the girl
for the job, and damn the looks I'll get
from the upscale ladies whose smiles
are meant to suck the fight from their perceived lessers.
Hear how they cough now,
how their buboes distress them
causing cancellation of their little dinners
in favor of charlatans with vestments and censers.
I am the one.
I am your only hope.
See how winter has taken hold, and the dogs eat
your unburied glassy-eyed girlfriends.
A beak stuffed with spice and roses helps me to endure
the stench of you, and your kiss
as I save you so that you'll owe me
in the spring, or lie blue as the gentians.