How Freedom Feels

by Rachael Button

Guinea’s last Ebola patient recovers in Conakry“-BBC

Sierra Leone Says Bye-Bye To Ebola With Rap Song And Hip Dance Moves“-NPR

For weeks in 2014,
I wondered
if the world would end–

bloodied mattresses
stolen from hospitals
and children curled
on sweat-soaked blankets
red eyes,
black vomit,
and bodies held close
under quarantine–

I lived these fears
in dreams and photographs
posted on the internet
pictures of
of blood-stained
hospital sheets,
and soldiers with sticks
walking quarantine boundaries.
Pictures of fields filled
with black signs
naming the dead.

Like everyone else,
I worried the lace-shaped virus
would mutate,
leaving whole countries
vulnerable
to the space between
breathing bodies.

So, today,
when doctors declared
their final patient in Guinea–
a baby girl born
to an infected mother–
was Ebola free,

I held hope:

gratitude,
for doctors and nurses
who shed their fear
to strap on their suits,
for workers
who stayed
to wipe blood from floors
for children
who sang
recovery songs,
filling hospital wings
with their prayers,
for Red Cross volunteers
who taught families
how to dig graves
wearing gloves,
for hearts braver
then mine,
stories to tell,
and hands to work.

I held hope
because in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
they are shaping hands
into “V” for victory,
letting skin brush skin,
holding each other in hugs,
in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
they are waving bye
to Ebola
in crowds for television,
in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone they are singing
“Thank God that it’s over,
no time for the haters,”
letting music fill their hips
azonto
soldiers and survivors
students and ETC staff
nurses and pastors
swaying
elbows
shoulders
as they dance.

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