we scramble for masks like talismans—
to ward off nightmares of
infections and other phantoms—masks reveal our fears,
hazards which arise naturally.
if we have come across news of
anyone coughing or sneezing, fatality cases would certainly alarm us.
be on your guard. but be slow to judge others. instead,
wash your hands clean of prejudice, you can dwell
regularly upon the importance of hygiene.
because paranoia about
this virus is the actual threat:
nothing like what we have seen before. this is not the last we shall see of it.
some warn: “how can we avoid media sources that paint
foreign visitors and immigrants as
disease-ridden virus-spreaders? xenophobes are
walking pathogens, plagues of terror.
with their nauseating habits, they mask their true intentions.
we can hardly quarantine them all.” so the danger remains—
this disease of our own ignorance—until we know what
has truly gone viral is fear itself.
Ow Yeong Wai Kit is a teacher and poet from Singapore. He holds an MA in English from University College London. In 2019, he was a recipient of the Outstanding Youth in Education Award, presented by the Ministry of Education, Singapore. http://www.owyeongwaikit.org