Issue 109, Winter 1988
Those were the polio years. The war
Prospered. In Warm Springs Georgia
Strong-armed Sister Kenny
Fixed the limbs of a sleeping child.
In Penn Station New York City,
Slapping nightsticks on their palms.
The Shore Patrol patrolled.
Crowds were evil, water too.
I was not to swim in public pools
Or amuse myself in parks. A girl
Stretched out her limbs upon a bench
In Penn Station. It was morning.
The hands of the big clock moved slow.
Her father in a fedora was coming by
To pick her up at ten. My courtesy
Cousin and namesake Arthur
Caught polio at camp and died.
My father said naked we come in.
Naked we go out. Were children
Buried naked, was Arthur buried so?
The train, its hunger satisfied,
Rolled west out of Penn Station,
Overcoming the resistance of the air.
He had a brother Ted, a mother
Doris. It was a good year for ocarinas.
Ukeleles too did their part
To overcome a girl’s resistance
To a soldier on a crowded train.
Years after the war she called.
I confused my cousin Ted with Arthur.
“How’s Arthur?” I asked, then blushed.
She forgave me but my cheek
Still burns as from a needed slap.