This poem came out of the June 19, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from the_vulture and rickybuchanan. It belongs to the series Hart's Farm, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.
Auduna folded up the bedclothes,
piled them into a wicker basket,
and went to deliver them.
She did not get very far
before Zsuzsanna interrupted her,
blond hair tucked under a black cap
and sleeves rolled up.
"I need your help," Zsuzsanna said,
and she worked as a nurse for the village doctor,
so Auduna nodded and said, "Whatever you need."
"When you put the fresh linens in Elharn's room,
I want you to take his boots," Zsuzsanna said.
"You want me to steal someone's boots,"
Auduna repeated carefully, raising her eyebrows.
"Not steal," Zsuzsanna said. "He can have them back
as soon as he gets well. Otherwise he'll run out
and work while he's sick and just make it worse.
He's not daft enough to go out barefoot, though."
"I suppose there's a reason not to do it yourself,"
Auduna guessed. Zsuzsanna nodded.
"He'll suspect me," she said.
"You're new; you can get away with it."
Elharn was still strong, but no longer young,
and people worried if he didn't take care of himself.
Auduna sighed and agreed to the errand.
She tiptoed into his room -- he was snoring horribly --
heaped the fresh sheets and comforter on the dresser,
and hid Elharn's boots in her basket.
The next house posed no challenge,
but then there was Rowen
leaning on the outside door of the cottage
that she shared with Inge and Bergren.
"I really, really want to smother her right now,"
Rowen said to Auduna.
Inge had the same thing Elharn had,
because once one person got sick,
it tended to go through most of the residents.
Unlike Elharn, Inge turned into a clingy horror
when she didn't feel well. Worse,
a bad cold wiped out her artistic inspiration,
which she hated, which made her even more unbearable.
"Rowennnnn," Inge moaned, loud even through the door.
"I'm out of cough syrup! And handkerchiefs!"
"Give it here," Auduna said, holding out a hand.
Gratefully Rowen passed her the bottle
and then made a hasty retreat.
"Here, I brought you some cough syrup," Auduna said to Inge,
setting it down along with the fresh linens.
"I want Rowen," Inge sulked from her bed.
"You know she makes the herbal medicines for everyone,"
Auduna reminded her. "I'll have Ketiley bring you soup."
"Thank you," Rowen grumbled as Auduna left.
When Auduna got back to the linen room, she smiled,
because Zsuszanna was there to take charge of Elharn's boots
and Rowan was handing out a tonic that would hopefully
strengthen other people's bodies enough to ward off the illness.
It was hard when a bunch of folk got sick at once,
but at least they had plenty of hands to share the work.