Just The Flu
by Andrew Hubbard
It sounded like the doctor
Was talking from far away, underwater.
He said, “little kids spike a high fever
He’s strong, just give him lots of fluids
He’ll be right as rain tomorrow.”
So I shook and baked and sweat
And slept and dreamed
I was in a field of tall brown waving grass
And low, lush blueberry bushes
Bent with heavy loads of bursting fruit.
I had the scrubbed-out lard can
Mommy gave me for berries
And I was on my knees picking
And dropping berries into the can
And as they fell each one turned into a pearl
Pure white and gleaming.
The pearls all whispered
And their voices blended
Saying, “you won’t be poor any more,
You’ll never be poor any more.”
“Food—all you want
And a puppy, and the clothes
Mommy’s ashamed to ask for
And medicine for sister.”
I ran home with the lard can
Hugged to my chest and the pearls
Clicking together like marbles.
I gave them all to Mommy
And she held me and cried
And cried. Her tears dropped
On my face, and I began to know
I was not there, I’d left
Without even knowing
For the place
Pearls come from.
Andrew Hubbard was born and raised in a coastal Maine fishing village. He earned degrees in English and Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and Columbia University, respectively. He has had four prose books published, and his fifth and sixth books, collections of poetry, were published in 2014 and 2016 by Interactive Press.