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.

Anne Valley-Fox | Nightfall |Red Mountain Press 2016