by Mary Anne Cohen

A line of children come from school
Girls in plaid dresses, braids,
Boys in white shirts, fifties haircuts,
some were crying, all afraid
Doctors in stark white, with needles like cannons
aimed at our small arms.

“Polio Pioneers”, the first brave shots, a bit of pain,
But we would not have withered legs like Uncle Stanley,
a wheelchair like the lady down the street.
We would not have canes, leg braces, or dreaded
Iron Lung half-life seen
In March of Dimes displays
Our mothers could stop fearing summer,
send us to the pool again
Another dread disease stopped dead
by modern science

Now New Age nutters rail against vaccines
wear their ignorance like tie-dye shirts
years out of style, “All Natural, man!”
“No chemicals, Organic”

As natural as the rows of little graves
in any ancient graveyard, young lives cut short,
tombstones leaning
with an awful grief, five children in one family
dead in one black week
Of sickness we can now prevent
with a small shot
Death is natural, organic, impartial
Dust to dust.

We have won an awful war.
A pox , a literal pox,
on those whose warped beliefs
kill babies, whose ignorance and arrogance
throws victory away

They all should go to those small graves,
read the mothers’ grief, fathers’ helpless pain.
See the blood on their own hands
hang their heads in shame