Covid wants to give me

by Priscilla Frake

the plush spotted throat of a tiger lily
and embroider my lungs with tiny roses
in scarlet and burnt sienna.
It wants to gild me with fever
and dust my heart and kidneys
with glittering spikes

of glycoprotein. Covid
wants to fashion me a headdress
of invisible pearls that hang before me
and scatter as I speak, flung
to the crowd like Mardi Gras beads.
It wants to make a cutwork

of my guts, a frothy lace.
Don’t we all secretly long
for attention? Don’t we yearn
to be dressed in our own
extravagant distress? But I want
to keep breathing. I creep

around the edges of the grocery store,
an anxious mouse in a gray cotton mask,
as Covid keeps trying to pose me
like a statue, vein me with
cytokines, and inlay its ivory
in all my cells

Priscilla Frake is the author of Correspondence, a book of epistolary poems. She has work in Verse Daily, Nimrod, The Midwest Quarterly, Medical Literary Messenger, Carbon Culture Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and The New Welsh Review, among others. Her honors include the Lorene Pouncey Award at the Houston Poetry Festival and a Pushcart nomination. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is a studio jeweler.