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Then Dr Salk – Atlas

Then Dr Salk

James Norcliffe

The facts: a boy with red hair, violent, easily brought to rage; fists and blood-rush.
Choirs surround him. Anthems of lust.
The visit: then Dr Salk came bringing vulcanite suitcases, towers of wax paper-cups, flasks of pink emulsion.
The conceit: a line of willows bent yellow over the stream like frozen dancers: a Salk vaccine protecting the grass from frost.
The aftermath: the staff leading the boy away. The rabble forming a line.  We raise our paper-cups, down the emulsion, drown the noise, the baying, the fear of calipers.
The toast: we drink to the good, self-denying doctor, drink to the end of winter, of frost, to the end of violence, drink deeply of sweetness, pinkness, health.

The Salk vaccine is the polio vaccine. It was pink in colour and came in a little paper cup to drink.

James Norcliffe has published nine collections of poetry including Shadow Play 2013 and Dark Days at the Oxygen Café 2016. Recent work has appeared in Landfall, Spillway, The Cincinnati Review, Salamander, Gargoyle and Flash Fiction International (Norton, 2015). In 2010 he took part in the XX International Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia and in 2011 the Trois Rivieres International Poetry Festival in Quebec.