Some Microbes

Translated by Fady Joudah

Some microbes 
liberate themselves 
from the body they’ve settled in
by suicide.
They whisper in your ear
to smash your car into a wall
or blow up a pier.
Even madness, 
our singular claim to superiority,
is nothing more than a vitamin deficiency. 
All this and you still doubt
how pink
my nipples are
after I’ve told you they’re pink.
Microbes whisper Vitamin D
to me, whisper amino acids,
yellow plasma, and a man
that morphine takes away 
as oxygen grabs him by his arm.
I touch myself to live free
of arterial disease and gastric ailments.
I counter microbes
with supplements 
that give me headaches
and good standing in a middle class
that guards itself against a painful death.
I used to fear going hungry 
in the cold
of forgetting.
Now I fear microbes with voices.


From You Can Be the Last Leaf (Milkweed Editions, 2022) by Maya Abu Al- Hayyat and Fady Joudah. Copyright © 2022 by Maya Abu Al-Hayyat and Fady Joudah.Reprinted with the permission of Fady Joudah.