The body splits breath in two, goes on bifurcating it
in pressure chambers for keeping alive.
The body regathers breath: expelling toxins
gave birth to speech. So far
illness rubbed me
I sought cure by any means necessary
as if illness is a labor union
that science must squash. My union
was with killers who until recently
(since our dawn of apes)
we didn’t know existed—
or if we did, couldn’t treat—an occult clot
that ceaselessly migrates and dissolves
until it takes up residence, settles disaster.
Illness rubbed me and I didn’t care
for visitors. They loved me. I understood
their concerns about their fears
for themselves, of themselves,
their questions and eavesdropping.
Then it passed. Again
we needed each other.
Fady Joudah has published four collections of poems and has translated several collections of poetry from the Arabic. He is the co-editor and co-founder of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received a PEN award, a Banipal/Times Literary Supplement prize from the UK, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Fady Joudah’s new poetry collection Tethered to Stars is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2021. He lives in Houston, with his wife and kids, where he practices internal medicine.