Please grant mercy, Ella Webb!

Sealed within a windowed tube
that struck me as a giant
chrome-and-ivory jumping bean,

the girl my age smiled
thin as airplane model tissue
through me to her end.

ELLA WEBB! THE GIRL IN AN
IRON LUNG! PLEASE HELP ELLA
WITH YOUR GENEROUS DONATION!

prayed the sign tacked on her tiny tent.

Though scared to drift too near
on the noisy festive sprawling floor
of the ancient armory, I spied dark hair surround her

aging newsprint-yellow cheeks,
feeling guilt with every easy stride
50 years ago this week.

Maybe we gave a quarter.