This poem came out of the July 2, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from siliconshaman and the classic novel Frankenstein, which you can read online. It also fills the "taking care of somebody" slot on my card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family, which you can find on the Serial Poetry page.
It was not Victor Frankenstein's fault
that his parents had mistaken him for a girl
due to the unfortunate shape of his genitals.
He knew, of course, that he was a boy,
although the presence of a vulva
where there should have been a penis
was more than a bit confusing for a while.
He maintained his insistence
through scoldings and whippings,
and his parents soon learned
that they could either dress him in trousers
or have him tear off the petticoats
and run naked through the house.
So they kept him home
and had him tutored in private.
He studied all kinds of science,
became quite good at it,
and learned that sexual variation
occurred in species throughout nature.
Like most men, Victor wished
for a wife and children.
There was a girl whom he courted
for a time, but then she found out --
well, leave it said that walking in on him
whilst he was in the shower
swiftly led to her walking out altogether.
Victor moved house, not for the first time,
seeking a place where nobody knew him
or his regrettable deformity.
He hired a servant to assist in the lab,
a gentle hunchback by the name of Igor,
and they soon became friends.
Victor was always searching for
ways to alter the human body,
in hopes of changing what looked female
into what would look male.
It never really went beyond testing on mice
but it gave him some interesting ideas.
It was Igor, though, who really started it --
when they finally got the frog legs to twitch
during a thunderstorm, and they hugged
and danced around the lab together.
"You know," Igor said slowly,
"I've seen how you watch the women
in the village with their little babies.
You've explained that you can't have
a child of your own body ...
but I believe you could make one."
Victor smiled, but it was a sad smile.
"It's sweet of you to suggest that, Igor,
but society expects a baby
to come with a mother," he said.
"So pretend one," Igor said.
"Women die in childbirth all the time.
Move to a new village, say that
you married and your wife passed away."
"That does not give me a mother for the baby,"
Victor pointed out. "Who would care for it?"
"Must it be a mother?" Igor said quietly.
"Look at me, Victor -- you are not the only one
who ever had a woman run out of the bathroom.
I too would like a child, and the ordinary way
is completely out of my reach.
I would gladly help you raise a baby."
So Igor procured the supplies
and they set about trying to make an infant.
It was harder than they thought.
The sad little corpses of stillborn babies
made both scientist and assistant cry.
They persevered, though, because
this was the only hope they had.
One dark and stormy night,
they finally succeeded in creating life.
They laughed and wept
and hastened to put out the fire in the lab.
They bandaged each other's burned hands
and wrapped the baby in a blanket.
They named him Adam.
He fussed and cried, waving his fists.
It took an hour to get him fed
and both parents wound up
wearing more than a bit of goat milk.
Igor rocked him and cuddled him
while Victor made a bassinet out of a packing crate,
because they'd been so busy making the baby
that they'd forgotten half the things
a baby would need.
At last they put Adam to bed.
"I worry, a bit, about whether or not
he'll be able to grow properly,"
Victor said, watching their son sleep.
"Ah well ... I suppose I should tell you
what got me interested in science,"
Igor admitted. "I spent years
studying growth hormones,
hoping to fix my damn back,
before I realized it was too late for me.
The formula would only work
on a child whose bones were still growing."
He shrugged. "But if we need it,
I'm sure we can recreate it."
Victor gave Igor a long look then.
"I know we've both had bad luck with women,"
the scientist said, "and neither of us are the sort
to go about lifting other men's shirts,
but I hope you won't be offended
if I say that what I feel for you
could very easily be mistaken for love."
"Don't be silly, Victor," said Igor.
"I've loved you ever since the day
you saw me changing my shirt
and didn't sack me for being
too hideous to look at. The fact
that I don't want you in my bed
has nothing whatsoever to do
with how I feel about you."
"Oh," said Victor.
"Then I love you too."
They didn't share a bed,
but they did move into the same room
so that they could put the bassinet
between the two beds and listen,
all through the night, to the sounds
of the lifegiving rain on the roof and
their family breathing softly beside them.
* * *
Transgender people have a deep history. Because medical treatments for this are relatively recent, in the past people often just "passed" as their gender of identity, covering up their physical shape as best they could. Some transgender people consider their sexual traits to be a deformity or birth defect; others don't. Sometimes it gives them sympathy for people with other types of physical challenges.
Victor and Igor share what's called a queerplatonic relationship, which is a devoted bond that is not romantic. They both happen to be heterosexual men who for various reasons don't feel able to marry women, and they've become deeply attatched to each other in a way that allows them to form an unconventional family. They are not "in love" but they do love each other -- and their son.