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When Polio Was Free

Doctor describes the ugly sight to reporters.

Fragile deformity came down hall in lop-sided creeps.

She crawled toward me with one knee around her ear.

Polio wrecking her bent frame from the inside.

Profaned her 10-month-old temple.

Three operations of success and only four to go. Only four.

Scar-sealed stitch-crossed wound pain over hope of child’s play.

Doctor fixes unfixable but over-cuts in speech.

Bedside manners cold awkward like metal braces leathered straps.

Predicts some day her mangled silhouette will look good.

Good enough to attract a husband.

Opportunity casting acceptable shadows under a man.

Some day. If lucky. With pain of practice and increased flexibility.

She will flex sufficiently to please the eyes of the married man.

With hard work and only moderate pain he may be found happy.

She with knees around both ears not the one.

Divorced from one-legged curse free trade for two-legged version.

Child bridled with hope of two legs working well as one ugly one.

May her husband be satisfied with performance.

With love he will not say this to her. Look away if not.

Real beauty only asymptotically approached in life.

As with asymptotes, never quite reaching.

But pretty enough. To attract a husband.

Almost as easy as three surgeries.

Hope checked. Polio-free bills to pay.

Worth it all for real beauty asymptotically achieved.

Look what he had to work with.

Just look at the ugly thing.

Just look.

Ends the interview.

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