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AUDIO: 'Most Officials Agree the Epidemic Could Have Been Contained Earlier'

    Health workers carry the body of a child suspected to have died of Ebola near Monrovia, Liberia. (Abbas Dulleh / AP)

Poet Sonia Greenfield ruminates over the racism and ethnocentrism involved in international responses to epidemics, for example during the recent Ebola outbreak, which was mostly concentrated in West Africa.

Sonia Greenfield reads “Most Officials Agree the Epidemic Could Have Been Contained Earlier”

Most Officials Agree the Epidemic Could Have Been Contained Earlier

Sonia Greenfield

Every loss attracts a lesson. Every absence
pulls men and women, before and after dark,
into labs where gravity drags in the sterile
frankness of florescence.
No. That’s not right.
You must admit one loss is just a tack
in the map. The pins must multiply,
must clamor as a crowd for attention.
The entire paper of the map obscured.
It must be more than a handful of black
bodies buried behind a tin shack
in Sierra Leone.
But thumb a tack
in your own map, and I’ll poke mine.
Take that non-verbal boy flapping in the park
until a chorus of correlation! correlation!
drowns out the better part of reason.
You were wrong again.
Now my husband
cares for infants aflame with measles, too
young for inoculation. But we get it right
sometimes. A friend takes statins so he can
still eat pork, yet it had to take a million
dead fathers to make it so. Too bad what
losing teaches us we shouldn’t
have to know.

Sonia Greenfield was born and raised in Peekskill, N.Y., and earned master’s degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Southern California. Her book, “Boy with a Halo at the Farmer’s Market,” won the 2014 Codhill Poetry Award. Author of poetry chapbook “Circus Gravitas” (2014) and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems, essays and fiction have appeared in 2010 Best American Poetry, The Antioch Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, Cimarron Review, Cream City Review, The Massachusetts Review, Meridian and Rattle. She lives with her husband and son in Los Angeles, where she teaches writing at the University of Southern California.

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