Baby in a Box by Ivy Schweitzer

Baby in a Box
Sierra Leone October 2014

All day I maneuver bodies
I cannot touch,
my impermeable suit a shield and bar,
muffling the cries of the baby in the box.

One of the nurses tested it,
not positive,
so we picked it up,
one after the other,
since there was no one else,
starved for touch.

I don’t know who left it in the box––
makeshift cradle
in this makeshift clinic
in this sweltering country
where plague spreads
by touching
especially the ritual touch of the dead
who infect the living mourning them
who are begged not to comfort each other.
It is a demon’s logic.

But here was a bit of miracle,
and one by one we held it in tired defiance
that comfort could be contagious,
rising for that moment
above the box
and then,
one by one, we fell
clenched in our isolate suits,
becoming the ones
no one else would touch––