Years and years ago, perhaps I was six or seven,
I had an abrasion of some sort on my leg
which I fidgeted over, didn't let nature
do its timely healing. I showed it to my sister P.,
who had a scientific, doctorly bent to her,
and upon examination, she stated with assurance,
Yes, it's leprosy.
Leprosy! Horrors! I was too shocked to let anyone else
in on this frightening "fact." I recall losing sleep
over this accumulation of ragged cells above
my ankle, in constant fear of loss of ear/nose/foot.
(I never considered the possibility, at that young age,
that I might be transmitting this disease to my family.
Ah! The self-involvement of youth! If I was going to die
a tragic, agonizing, untimely death, I was going to do it
alone, by gum.) But first I was going to have to endure
banishment and dress in tatters as my skin and bones
left a trail behind every step.
The fears eventually diminished when new symptoms
failed to appear. It had to be at least a year
before this happened, and I began to believe that maybe,
just maybe, P. had been mistaken. I didn't for a moment
believe that my beloved older sister had been
pulling my leg (off!)!