The concubine of the underworld is expecting.
Up above we hold our breath with shivery
fascination: she might deliver at any time,
any place, and in multiples. The instant Ebola
pirouettes west, a state-of-the-art hazard team
will rush to the scene—stifled in moon suits,
pressed back from her sweaty thighs,
they’ll watch aghast as the newborn
slips from its poisonous caul into our midst.
Though the infant’s isolation will be scrupulous,
the medical team will be sweating bullets.
Because we are linked, paper dolls
in a flammable chain of contagion and death,
the virus, a monster of pure chemistry,
provokes in me a feeling almost tender.
Unlike the drone, dispatched from a U.S.
Air Force base to take out a terrorist target
in Afghanistan, or hooded assassin
raising a hatchet over a bowed head, Ebola
plays no favorites in her fast embrace.