By midsummer, cases number in the hundreds.
Doctors fight about the cause. Air, water, Lake Michigan?
The Trib is filled with photos: babies in iron lungs,
Sister Kenny applying hot packs to paralyzed limbs,
youngsters struggling on crutches.

Mother scrubs apples, potatoes,
peels the skin from peaches, grapes,
insists on three baths a day, parsley juice at noon.
Inside our stifling apartment, quarantined
from playground or Plaza Theater germs,
I watch friends hurry home in wet bathing suits.
I live for Jack Armstrong: All-American Boy on WLS.

One morning I wake with a rowboat stomach, fever.
Fifty years, but I remember that plunge into the icy tub,
hear her chair creak beside the bed
as we wait for my legs to turn to wood.