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  • Writer's pictureErrol Rubenstein

FEVER





Reading poetry in the afternoon—

my young son sleeps next to me

on the sofa, nursing a fever,

his breath a soft susurration.


Out strolling the streets his mother and twin brother,

stopping at a grocery store for food for dinner.

Upstairs, the neighbor’s dog scrambles

on the hard wood floor, and I feel anger rise


fearing this will wake my son.

Above, furniture is moved around with scrapings—

my sleeping son turns over. Just as anger rises again

the noise stops. It is quiet.


What if we lost him? What if

his fever never breaks, keeps climbing?

What if we have to rush him

To the ER? What if it is

too late? What if they cannot save him?


Then I look at him next to me

and I know he is just sleeping; only a child

with a low-grade fever. Faintly I hear the hushing

of the noise machine

in the nursery set to “waves.”

As he wakes, his eyes open. I put down my book,

he asks for Mama, I say

that she will be back soon.


This is enough for him.

He turns over onto his stomach,

goes back to sleep.


I have yet to know grief;

I have yet to know loss;

yet to feel that beat of heart

disperse in air. Moments



are fleeting as wind,

are falling leaves,

are all I have been given.


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