Malaria Poems: I Want To Go

Background photo ©James Gathany/CDC, Designed by Leigh Cavanaugh
By Cameron Conaway

Pregnant women are “four times more likely to contract and twice as likely to die from malaria than other adults.”5

I Want To Go

I want to go in the moment

before going in. The concrete

wall seems grayed with knowing.

Ear pressed against the grain

hears the cold simmer of silence

then the boom and echo of flood

in throat. Sound chokes me. I go

in to see brown babies breaking

in their voices. Where walls meet

a young boy plays with shadows

and over and over kisses the static

outline of his mother’s pregnant belly.

Her temples show no trace of voice

in veins and in that moment I go

and somehow come to on all fours.

I reach, dip my hands in what was

a river, now dried to open scabs,

taste the wink of wounds under scars.

Maybe my eyes are closed. Life still

needles through the water and I run

cupfuls of absence through my fingers.

About the Author

Cameron Conaway is the Social Justice Editor at The Good Men Project. He was the 2011-2012 Poet-in-Residence at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Thailand and the 2007-2009 Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arizona’s MFA Creative Writing Program. His work has appeared or been reviewed in ESPNThe Huffington PostRattleTeach MagazineMöbius The AustralianCosmopolitan and the Ottawa Arts Review, among others. His first book of poems, “Until You Make the Shore,” was released in Winter 2013 from Salmon Poetry. For more information visit

5. Malaria Consortium. The Challenges. Pregnant Women.