I walk into my apartment with my mask on.

another coworker who worked today
testing positive for Covid.
another convincing management to close the store early.

I wave to my partner.
they wave back.
they know the drill by now.
I stand in front of the washing machine
throwing all my clothes in,
my mask,
my socks.
I know it doesn’t change anything.
medium fill,
heavy soil,
this time it doesn’t even bring me
peace of mind.

I stand in the shower
pretending the hot water
will sanitize me
from the inside out.
no matter how hard I scrub
I know I won’t feel clean.

I’m angry at management
who stood there
looked at us
and told us how unlikely it was that we would get Covid from this
and how we technically could still work
since we’ve been vaccinated.
he asks me if I would be alright
sacrificing an hour and a half of pay
if we closed early.

(what happened to Covid pay?)

I reply that
my partner has multiple chronic health conditions
and they already have long Covid
and I think they would be in danger
if they got it again,
I don’t mind sacrificing
an hour and a half
to keep them safe.
he nods.
I can’t read his expression under his mask.
a moment passes where
no one knows what to say.

I blame him.
for refusing us mask mandates in the cafe,
for caring more about
how much money he would be losing in
a god forsaken hour and a half
than for the health of his employees
and their families.
my coworkers ask angrily why he doesn’t care.
I remind them that
we’re replaceable.

I blame my partner’s parents
for not getting them the healthcare they needed
as a child.
maybe the pandemic wouldn’t be so
fucking terrifying for them
if they had.

I’m even blaming the doctors,
the scientists.
did you know some at-home tests
don’t actually test for the Delta strand?
my coworker asks me.
she says her mom is
a nurse practitioner.

I blame the president,
the capitalists,
the corporations and
all the other “bad guys” I can think of.
I blame my parents
for raising me in this country.
home of the brave essential workers,
land of the free to work through a pandemic;
free to survive it;
free to become another nameless statistic
that politicians will tweet their
thoughts and prayers

my partner walks towards me
with eleven dollar bills
crinkled in their hands.
“you want to order a pizza?”

there is nothing else I can do to keep them safe.

we have to eat soon
so I can sleep soon
so I can wake up and go to work again tomorrow.
there is no way to fight this
because everyone is to blame
so no one is to blame.
no one can be held accountable.
this is our new normal.
there is nothing else for me to do
except to be angry,
write a poem about being angry,
and think about what to get for dinner.

yeah, I say.
let’s order a pizza.