By Joan Mazza
I miss those rides to school or to the city,
immersed in a book, or eyes closed,
mind open to fantasies, without a thought
to beasts around me. I knew not to sit
near the man with newspapers on his lap
or the one who tried to catch my eye,
never worried about what I might catch
from benches, straps, or turnstiles, never
thought of pathogens on every surface,
as numerous as the microbiome I carry
concealed on my person. In innocent
places, traces of Anthrax and bubonic
plague, antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
How reassuring to learn that no Tasmanian
devils, Himalayan yaks, or Mediterranean
fruit flies travel the trains in New City. But
most strange of all (Consider what this means!)
forty-eight percent of DNA found there
matches no known organism.
Joan Mazza worked as a microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam). Her poetry has appeared in Potomac Review, The Comstock Review, Prairie Schooner, Adanna Literary Journal, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes, reads, and cooks, surrounded by oak and beech trees.