Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Not Mine"

This poem came out of the October 18, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl -- the bonus session with Monster House as a theme.  You can read more about this series on the Serial Poetry page.  It was inspired by prompts from fayanora, aldersprig, and miintikwa

WARNING: This poem deals with child abuse and implies some other violence.  The tone is also a lot darker than average for the Monster House series.  It may be triggery for some readers.

Not Mine

One evening I heard the doorbell
and opened the door to find
the bogeyman with a crying toddler in his arms.

"I need you to take her," he said to me.
"I found her three houses down from here."
She wore dingy pajamas
and bruises layered on bruises,
black and blue fading to yellowed green.

"What the hell is going on here?"
I demanded.

"She's not mine," said the bogeyman.
"I can't take her.  Her parents
beat her for wetting the bed."

"She can't be more than two years old,"
I snapped.  "She should probably still be diapers!"
Our son was, after all -- he had figured out the timing
but hadn't quite gotten the hang of aiming yet.

"I know that," he said,
"but her parents summoned me
and that limits my options.
The best I can do for her
is to get her out of that house.
Just call the police and tell them that
you heard the doorbell and she was on your porch."

"Well, I suppose that's true enough,"
I said, "if not the whole truth."
I helped him unwrap her arms from around his neck
and her fists from the long white silk of his hair.
Then I settled her on my hip.  She was still wet.
"Meanwhile, what are you going to do?"

His smile stretched all the way back to his ears,
teeth glinting as sharp and white as a shark's.
"I only eat the bad  boys and girls,"
said the bogeyman. "I've been summoned,
though I doubt they really knew what they were doing,
and I'm still ... very ... hungry."

"I won't keep you then,"
I said with a firm nod.
"How long should I wait
before calling the police?"

"Give me ten minutes," he said. 
He patted the girl one last time --
her sobs had dwindled to sniffles --
and dropped a kiss on top
of the satiny black cap of her hair.
Then he strode briskly away.

I was glad that my wife and daughter
had gone out shopping;
they didn't need to see this.
I gave the little girl a quick wash
then put her in one of my son's diapers
and a clean sleeper.
Soon they were both dozing
on the living room couch.

Then I gave the police a call
and a carefully edited version of the truth.
They arrived soon after
and were suitably appalled
by the little girl's condition.
They promised to deal with the parents
and see about placing her with someone else.

After all was said and done,
I cuddled our son on my lap
and tucked my nose into his hair
to enjoy the yeasty-sweet baby scent of him
while I waited for my wife and daughter to come home.
Under the hide-a-bed couch, the monster-under-the-bed
hummed one lullabye after another
as the minutes crawled slowly by.

And to think some people believe
that fur and claws make the monster.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, holiday, horror, poem, poetry, reading, writing
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