David Moolten

White Man With Ebola

David Moolten

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Even saving the village, you hoped to stay

above it all, stepping from your hazmat suit

to catered meals and a plane ticket home,

resembled Robert Redford

in Out of Africa with his flying machine

of paper and matchsticks. Well-meaning

though just acting, he looked down

on the lush cinematographic veldt

as little more than a map. You wooed death too

with its aristocratic tendencies

and predictable face, the body always

exclusive terrain. But now strange hands

feel you burning up, a hundred and four

in the tin roof shade, the propeller

a ceiling's slow fan, how plots resolve

to be simple, and in your delirium

you imagine the third world

not just another planet. Someone fades,

someone cares, comes back after stepping out

for a smoke, and the bed's empty,

not even ashes. That's how fast they spirit

love away, terminal in its abandon

and still mercy, its own remedy,

what you might get from anyone,

what nothing else spreads like.

David Moolten

David Moolten is the author of three books of poetry, Plums & Ashes (Northeastern University, 1994), which won the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize, Especially Then (David Robert Books, 2005), and Primitive Mood (Truman State University, 2009) which won the T.S. Eliot Prize (American version). A physician, he lives, writes, and practices in Philadelphia.