Today started as any other might,

but now there’s a lot more

donning and doffing.

Truthfully, I had never attended too carefully

to those words.

They needed to be

put back on my mind.

There were more barriers,

and I paid more attention to the necessary


of medical ritual.

No unnecessary touching, including handshakes, and reassuring pats on the

color-coded sock feet

of patients nervous for surgery.

The accretions of new worries

make the day more cumbersome,

and faster, without adding to the sense of worth

that often animates professional life.

By the end, I’m heavy with the weight of so many tacit reminders that

I’m a “hero” now,

with all the distance and loneliness that entails.