Poetry

EBOV

Photo Credit: NIAID.Licensed CC-BY.
Photo Credit: NIAID.
Licensed CC-BY.

Chance reminds Pasteur favors the prepared mind
But a species-threatening event: fruit bats pinging in the fig trees
An island of plague in Queen Victoria’s inland sea
Prefers backache a peculiar skin rash
& eight days to melt the host into a colander of poison
Torrents of bleeding & the black spit —
When we got there said the specialists we saw rabbits & goats a few ducks swam in the pond
But no monkey feast no voodoo stumbling over the bundles of the dead —
The bodies were prepared in the traditional fashion: black corpses white cotton
& songs to memorialize the path from birth
To annihilation by the fever: a reedy filovirus
A tubular glycoprotein
Assaulting everything but muscle & bone: blood cells
Clot into a masonry of jelly & crystalline brick
& slowly the liver dissolves the kidneys dissolve the surface of the tongue sloughs off
Is eventually spat out or swallowed
& comes a sound like bedsheets tearing terrible opening of the bowels —
One host was a whorehound from a sugar factory
Another photographed olive pigeons in acacia trees
Both found themselves limp & sensationless along with the doctors nuns & prostitutes
Turned mummy-like beside the banks of the Mongala River
Dissolving into the pink lozenges of their beds —
Not in the caves the specialists discovered having collected hundreds
Of biting insects cages of monkey & guinea pig
But somewhere amid the ten-cot tents the blinding stench of bleach smoldering wells
Of everything from the village that burns
Is ruin memory-maker a shepherd’s crook strand of RNA
& the specialists
Hooded masked goggled an inscrutable plastic army
Of jailers and saints