Modified CDC Villanelle

A woman throws up in a crowded bus.
Within minutes, the men in hazmat suits descend.
Fear of contagion panics escalations of distress.

A mother claps a hand upon a baby’s mouth; breathless
she’s crushed by bodies in the street, their frenzied blend
caused by a woman throwing up in a crowded bus.

Meanwhile in Texas, one recovered nurse
gives statements to the press. Daily unpinned,
fear of contagion panics escalations of distress.

I listen on the radio for reports on body counts.
My daughter asks how disease transfers, blood to blood—
What danger is posed by throwing up in a crowded bus?

A radio report recreates conditions— let’s say, a virus
lurking in a monkey’s blood: let’s say the hunter nicked
his hand. Days later: swollen glands, nausea; night sweats.

Cities teem with airports, rivers, bridges. How to adjust
the portals and vents? No current wisdom provides defense.
Watch as a woman throws up in a crowded bus.
Watch the fear of contagion escalate beyond distress.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Outbreak.

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