Imagine Mama Warthin’s joy
To see her darling, bright-eyed boy
A Doctor-school success

Surmounting scrimping self-denial
He vaults the moats of every trial
A resident, no less

A doctor, healer, oh, what bliss!
And what is better yet than this
Magnificent decision,

Eschewing gritty patient care
He breathes a more salubrious air,
He tracks a deeper vision

For into research now he goes
To plumb the truths strange symptoms pose
To give the world his learning –

A consciousness of latent need
Brings grants and stipends – he is freed
From med-School’s loans returning.

The years of toil are all repaid
The triumph of discoveries made
Brings honors and awards,

But what emerges from this perch?
What is the fruit of this research?
She now records:

Her once-respected family name
Is now a worldwide horror-fame –
“Oh, God! It’s Warthin’s Tumor!”

The strongest hearts she sees recoil
At any mention of that boil
In fact or rumor.

Does Mama Creutzfeld sob and fret
In Mama Yacob’s kitchenette
Their names a doom?

Is Mrs. Alzheimer, in fright,
Reduced to skulking in the night
A spectre’s gloom?

Why can’t we call them fummy lumps,
Or hairy, puffy, greenish bumps?
Why cause one’s kin disgrace?

Yes, I forgive the Warthin boy
And pity those whose sons destroy
A mother’s place.

The Gatlings and the Sharpnels, too,
Must bear the pain of what kids do
In ignorant aplomb.

Mama Kolatchnikov will grieve
Ma Molotov, her stomach heave
For years to come.

Joanne Greenberg