By: Andrew Eaton

i. Beriberi

 

When a body swells with what it cannot hold

buoyed in flesh, laid out on a table, logged

and bloated past all recognition, so smooth

every feature disappears and the skin won’t ripple,

 

you want to pierce it, cut it free from its afflictions,

lock a goat bone in the yellowed teeth,

palm-mute the mouth so guards won’t hear, and drain

a mucus trickle from the limbs; say, There.

 

 ii. Malaria

 

Mosquitoes fat as jack rabbits bounce

into your life and do not leave, whirring

a cloud of hunger through the camp, the heads

so charged with biting you’d starve them out.

 

 iii. Dysentery

 

When the man Temple spent some months inside

the wooden hospital

starved and young––what was he? eighteen?––

 

I would go in and lift him onto my back.

We would walk around the camp so he could see

––if nothing else––a warm gauze of sunlight.

 

 iv. His Will

 

He wasn’t sick, but he laid on a sick bed

while his eyes were going grey

 

as a port whose last ships slip the bay,

a brother watching as they blur in the long smoke.

 

 


Andrew Deloss Eaton was born in California and lives with his wife in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His poems appear in Crab Orchard Review, Magma, Narrative, and Poetry Ireland Review among other journals.