Teaching About Diseases
Puppet diseases are tiny and thread-like, with fune-
real fur coats and huge ears. And little clawed feet.
There is no fever. Just sawdust sifting from the sleeves.
Diarrhea is like intellectual melancholy.
Irregular heartbeat is like the tick of deathwatch bee-
It doesn't look like a disease, just attentive listening,
which falls over the eyes like a hood.
When the strings break, that's the end. Just a carved
chunk of wood on the bank of the river Lethe. And at
the crossing, the little green man signalling: Walk!
Chin up, shouts the puppet-master. We'll play Mac-
beth. Everyone kicks the bucket in that play anyway.
And the remaining puppets line up obediently back-
stage and pour out water from their little booties.
tr. David Young and Dana Hábová
fr. Intensive Care: Selected and New Poems
[Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College Press, 1996]