Friday, February 4, 2011

by Joan Dobbie

In the womb all babies
Could be merbabies but
Proverbially at birth
We begin by counting their fingers
& their toes
Now imagine a child born with limbs
That do not work & will not grow
& she has neither fingers nor toes
Worth speaking of ( this is true)
Imagine the hospital staff
Telling the mother about the virtues
Of (you know)
(Being that she is still so young
& so pretty & could have such a future)
& it’s probably retarded anyway
Yet the mother wavers because
--well-- she recognizes her child’s
Cry through the hospital hallway
Different from any other child’s
Cry & when she holds it there is
In the eyes
Still she wavers ... almost
But cannot ... and
Finally makes a choice
Does take the baby
Home with her vowing
To give it
This costs her
Within weeks
At least a husband
But you know there is
something to be said
About human children
Perhaps something about the
Spirits that enter
Living bodies in this world
Each a possible miracle
A true surprise

The child is now 5 months old
The mother tickles her baby’s belly
Like mothers giggle who believe
In their babies “I’m gonna getcha!”
She giggles “I’m gonna getcha!”
When a teeny voice calls out of the
Baby throat
In miniature echo & giggles
“I’m gonna getcha! I’m gonna Getcha!”
Five months
O MI G O D! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
The baby tests out she is
Her I.Q. a solid 140
At 2 they have her teaching
Other disabled kids how
To talk better
“I should have got paid” she says
A little haughtily when I
Meet them years later
At the Harvest Fair
Jessica is now 7
A young lady
Mistress of her own chair
Reader of book after book
Blower of bubbles
Singer of songs
Her mother just now graduated
With a B.A. in (understandably)
Education for the disabled
“Is that what you’re going to
Be doing when you grow up
Jessica? Work with other disabled
People” “No way” she says
“When I grow up
I’m going to be a painter
Or a musician”
And she means it
For Halloween she is dressed
As a mermaid
“See what I can do” she says
Throwing herself up into a perfect
Locust (which if you do yoga
You will appreciate) & flipping Head over shoulder all over
The blue carpeted floor in true
Mermaid fashion
“See how strong I am” she says
I am really

* “This a Song to Jessica” appeared in Heaven Bone in 1987, in my chapbook, Mother Earth Takes to Smoking in 1988 and can be found on my website . Last I saw Jessica was sometime in the early or mid-90’s. At that time she was attending Law School. Copyright (c) 1987.