A Giant Baby

 

A giant baby sitting upright,

adrift in the ether. Its scalp

displays a quilt-work of patches,

 

“like the painted desert,” you claim,

although those mapmaker’s colors

suggest a globe. We argue

 

awhile before a voice intrudes,

perhaps your mother’s: “It’s about

to blossom.” We gaze at the baby,

 

which exudes a serenity

more like Stalin’s than the Buddha’s.

You confess that this sculpture

 

has haunted much of your life,

recurring whenever your German

and your Russian accents co-mingle

 

in the chaos of a dream-life

you’d rather have kept to yourself.

But I’ve already seen the baby

 

floating above both of us;

and I’ve heard your mother project

her voice from San Francisco;

 

and I’m fully prepared to witness

whatever desert flowers rise

from that geographic eggshell.

 

I don’t understand the patches,

don’t recognize the gender,

if any, of this morbid child,

 

but you seem hardly disturbed

by those mysteries, worried

more by its lifelong adherence

 

to the under-parts of a psyche

you’d hoped would contain it like

a canister of nuclear waste.

 

But we can solve this drama:

an icy dose of vodka,

the expensive Russian brand,

 

will pop it like a bubble,

leaving the empty sky gasping,

your mother hushed by the fog.

 

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent books of poetry are City of Palms and June Snow Dance, both 2012. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Worcester Review, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge

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