The Man in Building H

He splits cells and grafts them together,

an art he perfected with his children, a family

crafted from multiple marriages. Microbiology

is not often associated with the domestic,


but he was raised in the years when a station wagon

had bench seats big enough to haul little sisters

to the skating rink, little brothers to the ballpark.

He still wears the same L.L.Bean ushanka


from those chilly college days, when he paid

for State with side gigs and scholarships.

He took a job to pay for his weddings, his church tithes,

and those five kids he put through college, no matter


the picket lines that winked on and off

like Christmas lights outside his windows:

people who think pharmaceutical research is conspiracy

to make the rich richer and the poor sicker.


His eldest daughter is waiting for him now, shivering

at the ——ville platform, back from a world removed

from this germ warfare.  He wants for her what he has:

a family, a pension, Americana unbroken. She laughs.


He doesn’t mind his children’s selfishness.

At night he locks away his stains and slides

and passes through door after locked door,

the virus sleeping cleanly in the lab behind him.


S.R. Graham is a Pennsylvania native currently enrolled as an MFA student at the University of Florida.