Respirar

Grooming gloves on.
Respirator on, too.
I should always wear it
when I mix feed or groom,
but I don’t.
Today is different.
To hide my embarrassment
I conceal the respirator
beneath a pink
zebra-striped bandanna.
Am I embarrassed to value myself?
No.
It’s not that.
I’m afraid of the ridicule.
I’m afraid of being called a chicken.
It still scares me.
There is acceptance, too,
even respect
for my choices.
I know no one really means anything by it
and that when push comes to shove
we have each other’s backs.
Vertical and horizontal
both.
Red hair
clumps and strands
float, blow, spin.
My breath wheezes
strangely, behind the mask.
I get a little side eye,
momentary incredulity,
then we are fine.
I’m impervious.
I’m wearing my respirator.

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