When polio comes, I'll be around.
When polio comes shut all the doors and windows. Don't swim in the pool. Wash your hands. Wash the dishes, twice. Bake them in the oven to dry. Wait, when polio comes, I'll be there.
When polio comes, don't kiss your friends hello. If your friend has a friend who has polio, or if that friend's brother or mother has polio, you should not get so close that your friend could accidentally cough or sneeze on you. Even if your friend does not have polio. If your friend has polio please, don't see your friend.
When polio comes you should stay inside. People will come by to bring covered dishes and casseroles and to check on you and on your health and the health of the people in your house if there were people in your house other than you. Be thoughtful about who you let in. Polio moves fast. When polio comes it may be best to keep everyone out.
When polio comes, look under the bed; I left you some books. I know that you have a phone and you can call your friends with phones but when polio comes the phone calls will suddenly become the same and the voices of your friends will become the same voice. Everyone's voice. No one's voice. Just a voice of symptoms and doctors and laundry and incinerators and the same terrible, terrible dream. How can everyone have the same dream? So the books under the bed. When polio comes you'll be glad the books are there.
When polio comes and summer comes and the days are long and the house feels small and the stores are closed and the children without polio are still playing outside, still setting up the sprinkler in your yard, still pulling up the flowers in your garden, the children whose parents think the best defense is a good offense, when they come to your windows and beg for cookies and juices, you will want to take the box of books to the basement and look through it there. There are short books and long books. Funny and sad books. Comics and a novelization of a film of a play. And at the very bottom below a layer of Boy's Outdoor magazines is a small leather scrap book I made for you. When polio comes you'll find the crosswords I left you. Years and years and years of crosswords. When polio comes the crosswords will keep you in the basement until the sun goes down and the children go home and you can go back up into your living room again. When polio comes, the answers are in the back.
When polio comes and winter comes and the nights are long and the house feels small and the stores are closed and no one is out because all the children have polio and all the parents of the children with polio are sealed inside their houses because they know that the only defense is defense, when the voice is no longer calling you or answering your calls, when you start having the terrible, terrible dreams (how can you have the same dreams?), when you lie on floor and cry and cry and cry and cry, when you want nothing to do ever again except lie on the floor and cry, I will lie on the floor where I am and cry and cry too. When polio comes, I will come for you. When polio comes, I'll be around.