Ila, born 1919 in Salinas, CA
Yes, it's day 11, but my Monday-Saturday poems are A-Z, so I'm posting a NaPoWriMo prompt on Sundays only.
Also, linking to Poets and Storytellers United Writers' Pantry #65.
The Prompt: "Today, I’d like to challenge you to read a few of the poems from Spoon River Anthology, and then write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead... (It)... could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy. Be as dramatic as you like – Masters’ certainly didn’t shy away from high emotion in writing his poems."
Given permission to be "dramatic," with a "statement of purpose or philosophy," I may be forgiven for standing on a soapbox and not shying away from "high emotion"! The origin of this poem and it's true events are given at the bottom, along with statistics which may cause some to stop and think. I can only hope.
I remember Ruby with her curly hair.
She had a little wire-haired terrier pup
she carried in a basket.
Then Ruby died.
Rodney ran the fastest
of any boy in school.
Pertussis killed Rodney.
He couldn’t breathe to run… or to live.
Mary and her sister May
were both born deaf and blind.
Their mother had a virus, mild in adults,
with the twins unborn inside her.
I saw so many die,
others left disabled.
My classmates, playmates, neighbor babies.
Bacteria or virus.
So, why, I wonder,
do parents now,
forego the simple shots,
for things that killed so many?
The Preventable Diseases.
Their children suffer
and spread disease,
many will still die.
Whooping cough and Measles, Chicken pox.
They’re back again.
My late mother told me she remembered children she knew, playmates of hers, dying from what are now preventable childhood illnesses. The names here are fictional, but not the illnesses suffered. My mother wondered why any parent today would choose not to vaccinate? Had they forgotten, become complacent? Fooled by false data? Rebelling against regulations? I had mumps. I had measles. I had chicken pox. I am still alive, but I was very sick and missed a lot of school. I never did learn to “sound out” my words; I missed those weeks in early elementary school. Perhaps I passed my illnesses on to ones not so fortunate to survive unscathed, or even to survive at all. There were no vaccines in my childhood days. I was 5 or 6 when the polio vaccine (administered on a sugar cube) became available. My family stood in line with our neighbors at the local elementary school to receive our dose. Un-vaccinated children are not just a danger to themselves, but to others they come across who may have compromised immune systems, or infants too young to be fully vaccinated themselves.
Early childhood diseases are still killers.
Measles – 500,000 deaths worldwide annually, 1 in 1,000 dies.
Mumps – 1 in
10 cases leads to meningitis. Bacterial meningitis may cause brain damage, seizures, hearing loss, or death. The vaccines that prevent measles, mumps, chicken pox and the 'flu can prevent viral meningitis.
Whooping Cough – Such severe coughing a child may have seizures, brain infections or be unable to breath.
Rubella/German Measles – A fetus of a pregnant woman with Rubella has an 80% chance of developing “congenital rubella syndrome,” which leads to deafness, blindness, heart or brain damage, and mental impairment.
Tetanus – Produces a toxin causing painful muscle cramps strong enough to break a child’s bones, and 1 or 2 out of every 10 children with tetanus will die.
Chicken Pox – If a pregnant woman gets chicken pox near childbirth, the infant may be infected. 1 out of 3 will die.
Polio - The US has been free of polio since 1979, thanks to vaccination programs. But, because it still exists in other countries, vaccination is still necessary to protect your children and yourselves. There are no vaccine requirements for visitors to the US, nor do US residents need vaccines to re-enter the country from abroad. Polio can cause paralysis, leaving one unable to walk or breath.
The font used today is "Bitter," an intentional choice.
©2021 Lisa Smith Nelson. All Rights Reserved