Who Washes the Soap?

Everything has provenance.

You can’t laugh
without a smile,
ache without pain,
die without living.

You can’t be
without having been.

You can’t muzzle plague
without clean hands.
I wash,
therefore
I live.

Five-finger
locomotion,
every second
powering the world,
momentous and mundane—
a handshake at Yalta,
a backhand wipe of the nose—
in perpetual motion,
host of infinite germs
‘til soaped away,
pedestrian panacea for
survival in
a global and backyard lockdown.

In search of origin,
the mysteries
within Russian nesting dolls,
underneath layers of onion skin,
gatekeepers of isolation
trace the

Sickness retracing where you’ve been,
who touched or passed by,
and when.

Shutout from main streets
in ghost towns,
shut-ins venture out
in agitated voyage
to the market,
oasis in a desert of doom,
community at six-feet.
mocking
civilization’s social ritual
born 3000 BC in the
Persian bazaar,
place to gather
where now
agora becomes
a phobia.

Putting away the groceries,
hand-wiping every banana,
precious and banal,
suddenly alert to the
trail of infection left behind from car to house,
the morning’s history of the hand.

Back out to the car,
sanitizer in hand,
wiping clean
trunk and door handles,
steering wheel,
picket fence,
front doorknob,
kitchen door and counters,
diseased and dirty roads
that lead to a clean banana.

In the bathroom,
frantic scrubbing
once again.
the social ritual of our time,
a metaphor of hope.

Who washes the soap?
The infected soap,
ground zero of dirt and disease.
Symbol of salvation.

Origin of redemption.
If God is in the soap.

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