Tuesday, April 22, 2014


The nursery magic had happened to him,
and he was a toy no longer.
He was Real.
The Boy himself had said it.

Ford had learned how to change the baby’s diaper,
swing him like a football during the witching hour
and check the bathwater temp with his elbow.
He loved the boy’s mother who he had married
before full disclosure. Thus he certainly wasn’t
the father. Their April wedding happened on a whim.
He questioned his own wisdom. 
They’d been married ten months now;
the only lullaby Ford sang were hymns
for the nursery magic had happened to him.

Zebadiah, limbs akimbo in Ford’s arms, crying his throat raw
but Ford kept pacing the screened-in porch
hoping the neighbors wouldn’t mind too much.
He wished he could call his own mother
and ask for advice or a remedy or even a hand
but Ford’s single-mother had taken the dive
into her own hell-hole; he was the stronger
of the two. With Zebadiah’s mama at work, Ford needed to
rely on his own inner-fortitude.  The tonic, he’d conjure,
for he was a toy no longer.

It’s not that Ford didn’t feel for the boy, feel
pity and maybe a bit of kinship; they were both
bastards after all. That kind of talk was his mother’s
mouth running, sharp on the tongue and piercing
Zeb didn’t take after his mama and he’d never
match Ford. Someone looked like a third wheel
but no one could tell who was the spare
Ford was sure the neighbors gossiped
Now Ginny was showing, could no longer conceal
Ford was certain this next kid would make him feel Real.

Ginny climbed in the car, “Zeb will have a new
brother or sister soon,” she breathed, waving
goodbye as Zebadiah stood with Mrs. Paulsen
next door. Ford touched the shoulder of his pseudo-son,
offered a quick squeeze before the drive
to the hospital would finally acquit
Ford’s notion that he was a papa ad hoc; he wanted to
feel like he’d done all the work. Zeb’s arms locked around
Ford’s knees, “Daddy, I love you, don’t forget,”
breaking his heart, Ford was already Real. The Boy himself had said it.

--some lines from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

1 comment:

Charli Mills said...

The evolution of this poem took me on an unexpected ride. It's powerfully male in showing the vulnerability of men and boys who are not toys, but real. Great poem!