Share this article on:

Notes from the International Conference on Infectious Diseases

Wilcox, Lauren

Poetry and Epidemiology

All day, from his chair, he watches the tides: cohorts, outliers, the pink-cheeked health of whores. Like oil-slicked sand the room holds the residue of numbers.

When he steps into the evening the sky is pale with the last of the sun. He entreats the armies before him, prostrates himself in a bowl of microbes.

At home the air is hot in its shine, the light so scrubbed, his children damp and hungry. He brings the soup to boiling, wipes the ink of cholera, of hanta from his hands, slices bread.

They eat in utter focus: fingers in bread, in mouth, in soup. He sits in the stillness of reprieve, marveling at the brightness at this table, how ungodly sterile these two are.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.