The Ebola Ride by Patrice Juah

On the Ebola ride,

paranoia is the driver.

It takes you on a high

leaving your senses hanging in the wild.

Fear is its deputy,

and panic, the conductor.

You never know which way the bus will go,

but you are told that as long as you stay put, constantly wash your hands,

and limit human contact; you’re in a “safe” place, at least for a while.

You do your best, to secure your seat,

making sure your loved ones are safely on board,

but as the death news come in, you’re reminded that this isn’t a normal ride.

You get a sudden kick, a silent voice asking why you’re still here;

perhaps on a mission, or for a purpose, you think.

Then suddenly humility takes over, the only calm you’ll feel in a while,

as you give thanks for still being alive.

And this is all happening on the Ebola ride.

Still on the road, Pickups rush by with men dressed like aliens,

either carrying or going to pick up fallen victims.

And somewhere at a Containment Unit, a baby cries in horror,

as his mother takes her last breath.

As you peek through the window,

crowded streets create the illusion of a normal life,

but as alive as everything appears from the outside, fear is killing us slowly on the inside.

Sometimes we wonder who’ll get off next.

But that’s the Ebola ride: no traffic lights, no horns,

no road signs, just us against an unseen enemy.

The night brings relative calm, but we rarely sleep,

as the nightmare of what’s to come the day ahead, haunts our dreams.

If you’re a diehard patriot, you remain on the ride for the love of country.

If you’re poor, the ride is your only choice.

If your survivor is your priority, you’re left with more choices then one:

to flee for dear life, with hope of returning when normal days are back?

Well, in the midst of this chaos, no one can tell.

And on the other side, the ocean wind sets the flames in the Crematorium ablaze,

as our hearts leap, for the souls of the ones we loved so dearly.

No last goodbyes, only memories, anguish, pain and grief.

The road is too narrow, the ride long and bumpy.

When will we arrive? No one really knows.

We’re stuck on this ride, with tiny doses of hope.

And though help arrives, we’re still in doubt,

as they too are clueless about when the ride will end.

So world, we’re here,

on this hand washing, temperature taking,

friends avoiding, hugs and handshakes prohibiting,

nonstop Ebola ride.


A draft of this poem was originally published on PBS.ORG

Photography Credit: From “Dreams of Home” by James Alexander Harding