Ear Infection in Costa Rica

Eleanor Tecosky-Feldman


Everything tastes bitter. Birds call sharp
and long, then not at all. Pressure. 

Pus drips down my neck.
It cakes and dries, mixing with sweat.

Your ear is leaking,
Sophia says.

She wipes the dried crust
and washes her hands in the river. 

Surprised, I touch the helix of my ear, the rind
and try to apologize

because, after all, it’s self-centered to be sick.
Who knows what oil change I’ve been neglecting?

As evidence, the boom of my own voice
amplified in my head, how all others recede. 

See, I used to think the body,
like a shoddy

TV or radio station, could be beaten into submission
or smacked back into clarity.

What wasn’t coming clearly through the channels
proved I was a bad receiver. 

For pestilence is evidence of weakness is evidence
of the wickedness of the world

is evidence of my wickedness. Amen,
the logic is foolproof. Can you imagine,

I was grateful to be a leper—to have proof
I was rotting on the inside.

Everything meant something else. Even her hands on me. 
Swung the metaphors up onto my shoulder and walked on.


Eleanor Tecosky-Feldman is a librarian living and working in Philadelphia. Her writing has been translated into Russian, and she now works with young people to publish literary magazines of their own.