That night, at the State Fair, my head throbs; a balloon ready to burst.
“Polio,” doctors say, then send me to the hospital for eighteen days.
All alone on the isolation ward, scared and homesick, I’m wrapped in hot packs sour with sweat. I sleep a lot, don’t eat much.
Days later, I’m allowed a steam-bath. One teen, strapped to a board, is naked, paralyzed. His penis floats like a dead worm. I stare, distressed.
Two neighborhood friends, back home, are now crippled. Pete hobbles around. Patty hauls a steel brace on her right leg.
Everyone says I’m lucky.