Malaria Poems: Wrapped Up In

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


“Grip, Coughs, Colds, Bronchitis, Asthma, Consumption, Catarrh, Malaria, Fevers, Chills and Dyspepsia, of whatever form, quickly cured by taking Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey.” 1

– 1902

Wrapped Up In

What’s worse? I asked.
Fire brighter. Cold wins.
She drummed words
out between beating
teeth. Body of bone
bundled in the ashes
of her skin then sealed
in the dazzling beads
of needing and sweat.
Her eyes are swathed
in jaundice yellow
but reach like ears
far beyond the bush
to the crushing hum
of the waterfall mask.
A blanket of sound
that hides the way
freezing now has her
heels denting dirt.
Please try to hold still,
the doctor whispers.
Warm rag on forehead
like a kiss too brief
and barely too long.
I am she says as I will.
Birdsong along the river.
A drum signals dinner.
The waterfall explodes.
Chickens cock-a-doodle.
Children laugh loudly.
Please stay still.
She is still.
Children laugh louder.

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 ESPN, The Huffington Post, Rattle, Teach Magazine, Möbius The Australian, Cosmopolitan 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

  1. The Deseret News. Ad. 01/21/1902.,4076960&dq=duffy%27s+malt+whiskey+malaria&hl=en