The flu comes to visit

by Lisa Jones

Why do people
come over,
fling themselves on my couch
and croak and quack about how sick they are?

Really.
There is a bad cold here
making its rounds through the houses
carried by messengers like these

I hand them cans of chicken soup with rice
and urge them to
GO AND TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES
(What I really mean is: Don't touch my couch! Don't touch my cat! Bye bye!)

But they want to talk
want to put their sticky fingers on my Kleenex box
This being the Wild West
people blow their noses with toilet paper
like that is a superior survival skill
to just breaking down and buying
Kleenex with aloe in it

Their noses
look like they've been chewed by rodents

So my Kleenex box
with aloe
is a very desirable object
Cripes.
Could you back-to-the-landers
occasionally visit the store?

Okay, the real truth is:
when my first friend arrived
white as snow
with unnaturally red lips
I was still a nice person
healthy, helpful
I gave her soup
cooked it for her on my stove
exhorted her to stay on the couch

But while she was lying there, as if dead,

In came my next friend
here for the potluck
all schmugly-faced
not taking off her hat or coat
because she was COLD
Announcing that people aren’t recovering from this cold
for days, weeks!
Great! Tell me more!
have a fever, and pass the butter!
the laws of biology are suspended in my house, after all!

The next day
at the café
a man with watery eyes
and a newly deep voice
patted the seat next to them
"Sit by ME!"

Right. In your DREAMS I'm gonna sit by you,
you leper.

And now, today, I have a cold
Damn!

And I want to go to the movie tonight
But I can’t -- can I?

Lisa Jones is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org) in Paonia, Colorado, where the flu reigns.

© High Country News