La Grippe

by Magdalena Ball

This poem is part of the series I’m working on around my great-grandparents’ immigration from the Russian Empire to NYC in 1907. NYC’s Tenement Museum is hosting a fascinating exhibition titled “The Flu of 1918: Sneeze but Don’t Scatter” (, which this poem is in response to.  I don’t know for certain that either of my grandparents had the flu, but given our current Covid pandemic, and the fact that they were living in a very tightly occupied tenement at the time the flu was raging through the city, it was enough of a likelihood for me to use the occasion as a springboard for exploration. 

Magdalena Ball is a novelist, poet, reviewer and interviewer, and is the Managing Editor of Compulsive Reader (  She has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, and online, and is the author of several published books of poetry and fiction, including, most recently High Wire Step (Flying Island Press, 2018), and Unreliable Narratives (Girls on Key Press, 2019).  Find out more about Magdalena at

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