Masque of the Red Death
Poe’s Prince Prospero, at least,
acknowledged the threat, paid
respect to his foe. He retreated, yes,
but he brought furnaces to the abbey’s gates.
He welded the bolts, preparing to make
merry until the peasants all perished.
We hung our money, which had never failed
to protect, over the door and bid our children
to roam the hallowed halls as freely as before.
The contagion outside continued to roar.
Slicing like glass into lungs of the weak,
minorities, the poor. We followed our whims
with storytime and plays. Football games,
marching band, life as a parade. Our whiteness
an armor used to deflect. But Poe knew,
you know, and I do, too, that disease seeps
as easily as hate into our skin. And today,
with two students, it begins.
By Aimee Noel
Aimee Noel is a writer and educator in Dayton, Ohio. Her work has appeared in Witness, Michigan Quarterly Review, Provincetown Arts, and elsewhere. She earned the 2020 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for poetry and can eat her weight in pierogi. Follow Aimee on Instagram at @aimeekn and for more at aimeenoel.net.