Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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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.

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