A beautiful woman blows her nose on the 4 train heading uptown and I am immediately attracted to the way she uses one hand to cover her nostrils with a thin tissue and the other to clutch a plastic container of soup. Her hair is perfectly blond and straight. Make-up floats over her skin like love poems. A thin line of black over eyes and something maybe called shimmer against her lids. Her lips are the shade of red my cheeks get during a winter walk.
I have been blowing my nose all across Brooklyn and Manhattan. At the end of each day, I refresh my handkerchief for another. Today’s is dark blue and yesterday’s was green. I remove my gloves and use two hands. There is nothing graceful or erotic about the way I extract the sick from my body. My skin is dry and my hair refuses to respond to coconut oil or conditioner. I wear no make-up or intentional threads to catch anyone’s eyes. This season stuffs me in. I am bound and layered. A poet sitting across from me might called me disheveled.
Many of us have become bears this season, hibernating until the sun reaches a more attractive temperature. It can be difficult to step outside when the wind knocks against our bones like an aggressive intruder. The ice continues to melt and reform and grow dirtier and dirtier with each passing car. I am trying to find beauty in all this cold and sick.
I think back on all the times during my least irresistible moments of weakened health. The ones who arrived to cook me medicinal meals: delicious Italian remedies or wonton soup from the nearby Chinese restaurant. The ones who rubbed oils on my chest to bring forth breath, read me poems until I found sleep.
My body coated in shivers and red. My mind, unable to capture coherency. The songs of my body, a choral of coughs and sneezes.
This woman on the 4 train is not hiding her sick. She sneezes into unfolded tissue and I watch her body seizure for a moment as it lets go of another round of germs. Sometimes it is comforting to be reminded that we are not the only ones feeling this way.
My sick is not beautiful and it is lonely these days. I make my own chicken soup. I research other antidotes. I notice the paleness coat my body and long for Vitamin D arriving from the sky, warming my skin.