A poem about a strong man who was made weak.
|In the cabinet at Papa’s house
there were band-aids
dozens of them
bright orange and florescent pink and a cool blue
that I would put on my doll’s knees to fix her boo-boos
just like my Papa did for me.
only my hands pushed too hard
or got tangled up
or made a scratch
not like my Papa’s,
keeping me together when I got hurt
rocking me to sleep
his warm voice telling tales of oompa-loompas
sometimes he would bring me cookies
or oatmeal cookies
sometimes I fell asleep before I ate them,
but he never cared
it doesn’t matter, he would say
I just wanted to bring them to you.
and I would fall asleep dreaming of his voice,
soft and gentle,
his flannel shirts,
his wool socks he wore at bedtime.
I thought I knew every inch of him.
when I thought there was a monster in the basement
he was there
and I knew
he was stronger than any monster
he and his strong knees that would bounce me up and down
trot-ole joe, trot-ole joe
and whoops! he would drop me
but his safe arms always caught me before I hit the ground
his referee cards:
stop, go, stop, go
my little hands darting in and out of his pockets
and the fake dog barking downstairs
a ‘you’re safe’ sound
even though it wouldn’t hurt a soul
he taught me how to play soccer
and how to use a saw
in the little red barn he let me organize all of his nails
with crooked handwriting and misspelled words
he smiled when I rolled down the hill and got all muddy
and then he did it too
he held my hand when Margie died
he held my heart when I came home crying
his warm grip felt like it would never leave
one morning I woke up
and all the band aids were ripped up
all of a sudden he wasn’t there
and I was supposed to have the band-aids
I was supposed to scare away the monster
and I knew
I couldn’t do it
smelled of worry
he needed me
but I wasn’t there
the monster was too big.
and when he finally makes it into the bathroom
to look for a band-aid,
he’ll find that only one is left
and it’s broken.
but all the same, he’ll put it on my leg.
I’ll try to brush it off
because I’m scared that he might be ripped away from me
and then I’ll freeze
freeze because the world is so cold
and I’m so…
an open wound
that needs cream but doesn’t want it
because it’s easier to just dry up
but then I pull the band-aid closer to me
I just get too cold
to be alone
and I need him again
I want him back,
and a broken band-aid is better than none.
and besides, he’ll tell me,
I just wanted to put it on you.