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Poem: "Patching Up" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Patching Up"

This poem came out of the September 18, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from zianuray.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the series Monster House, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.

Warning: This poem features childhood-typical injury and subsequent angst.  If that's not your thing, you can skip to the other poems in the series.


Patching Up


When my daughter was four,
she was a wild thing, whooping and hollering
and climbing the furniture like an ape.
She rarely took hesitant steps
like other blind children.  Instead,
she ran beside her seeing-eye gremlin
and got into no end of trouble.

We couldn't get a regular babysitter to take her,
even at twice the going rate.
Half the relatives wouldn't either
and the other half weren't always available.
My wife and I worked odd hours as consultants,
sometimes in the home office and other times outside,
which made life kind of complicated.
Fortunately we had housemates to take up the slack.

Then one evening my wife was out
and I was locked in my office with an urgent project,
leaving my daughter under the watchful eye of the bogeyman.
From the living room came a loud crash and a cry of pain.
I abandoned my computer and dashed downstairs.

By the time I got there, the bogeyman
had already scooped up my daughter
and covered her arm with an alarmingly large wad of gauze,
which he taped down very meticulously as I watched.
She sniffled, almost silent and without the usual excuses.

"You're surprisingly good at that," I observed.
"In my line of work, you learn a few things,"
the bogeyman said in a clipped tone.
"She tripped over the lamp and cut herself on the pieces.
That probably needs stitches."  He handed her to me
and went to put away the first aid kit.

My daughter was silent all the way to the emergency room.
Six stitches later, she was almost as good as new.
She was still and quiet all the way home too.
Really not a good sign in someone
who chattered and fidgeted and
generally epitomized the patter of little feet.

To be honest I was as worried about her babysitter
as I was about her.  Sure, accidents happen,
but sometimes people stay upset about that.
If even the bogeyman  refused to watch her anymore
then life was about to get a great deal less convenient.
Plus that was a relationship I didn't want to lose,
and not just because of the babysitting.

My heart was heavier than my daughter
as I carried her up the front steps
and deposited her in the living room.

The bogeyman was sitting on the couch
with his face in his hands
and the lurking shadow wrapped around him
like an afghan of black wool.
He scrambled to his feet and met us at the door.
"She'll be fine," I assured him
as my daughter plastered herself against my leg.

"I'm sorry I was bad,"
she mumbled into my pants.
I looked at the bogeyman
who was very carefully not looking at me.
"I think that I'm not the one who needs the apology,"
I said to my daughter.  I peeled her off my leg
and gave her a firm push forward.

"I'm really  sorry,"
my daughter said to him.

The bogeyman gazed down at her
from his towering height
and then folded himself quite small
so that he could meet her eyes.

"You do not do this to me again,"
he said very gravely.
"You mind me  when I'm watching you,
and if I say to slow down
then you will slow down."

"Okay," she said in a tiny voice.
"Okay," he agreed,

and it was.

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21 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 20th, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
This poem fits well with all the others in this series.
Accidents happen whenever there are little kids around.
Very good!
:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2012 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

This also highlights an important point of character development. Other poems have established that she has an adventurous spirit and a tendency to rush headlong into things. But she does still have the visual handicap, and learning how to cope with that will occasionally involve some tumbles. She also has to learn the importance of accounting for other people. So as she gets older, she's still adventurous but not quite so reckless.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 21st, 2012 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I enjoy reading character development scenes when it's as good as this.
:)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: September 20th, 2012 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
An interesting contrast to Muddled Up, too.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 21st, 2012 05:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops--I better go back and reread that one before I answer.
:]
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 21st, 2012 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops--I better go back and reread that one before I answer.
:]
From: siliconshaman Date: September 20th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
*grins*

Yeah, that reminds me of when my daughter was little... she wasn't very good at minding what she was told, until she had an accident like that. That said, most young things aren't always that good at remembering to be careful.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

I was a little beast, but had an excellent sense of self-preservation. Kids vary, though. Some are really quiet and shy. Some are loud and rambunctious. And some kind of combine the two, they'll take things apart or blow stuff up rather than fall out of a tree.
From: siliconshaman Date: September 20th, 2012 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Umm, yeah. I fall into that latter category. Built my first rocket at 12...and my first successful one 3 months later. Mum always said she only worried when I was quiet, because she knew I was planning something.

Edited at 2012-09-20 10:10 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 20th, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Okay, thinking again, I guess I was bifocal. I could get into trouble loudly or quietly.

And I had quite a lot of fun with rockets, at several ages.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: September 21st, 2012 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

A kid I went to primary school with blew himself up with petrol and matches, twice!
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: September 20th, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I dread this day! If only I had a resident bogeyman....
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: September 21st, 2012 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder how much of the bogeyman's "clipped tone" was because he felt guilty about "letting" her get hurt.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: September 21st, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking that mix, when you know it's not all your fault but you were still supposed to be the _responsible_ one.


Poor bogeyman!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 22nd, 2012 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Also...

Power and authority aren't the same, and neither matter if people won't listen to you.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Almost all of it, plus some lingering frustration at her just being irritating.
zianuray From: zianuray Date: September 28th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I have such an image of the Bogeyman being worried that the parents won't trust him anymore.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 28th, 2012 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

That's part of it. He's also worried about her possibly getting hurt again, which is even more disturbing. Plus the embarrassment of being a bogeyman who can't seem to make a little girl behave herself. None of that is the kind of thing anybody really wants to discuss in the open air.
zianuray From: zianuray Date: September 28th, 2012 02:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

As a Bogeyman, he has to know healthy kids WILL test their limits and get hurt. I think it's more the possibility that it'll happen on his watch that worries him.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 28th, 2012 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Um. How much contact with healthy children has he really had? Most of the time he'd be summoned to deal with the bad boys and girls, per the standard bogeyman parameters (along with more general creepy atmospheric tasks like banging on the pipes). It's possible that this is the most contact with a reasonably functional girl that he's really had, and it may take a while for him to figure out how to make this relationship work properly.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 28th, 2012 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Um. How much contact with healthy children has he really had? Most of the time he'd be summoned to deal with the bad boys and girls, per the standard bogeyman parameters (along with more general creepy atmospheric tasks like banging on the pipes). It's possible that this is the most contact with a reasonably functional girl that he's really had, and it may take a while for him to figure out how to make this relationship work properly.
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