Never Shake a Baby

May 4, 2012
I look under, around, and
inside the bed,
shoving my arm down
behind the headboard.

As though this time,
Turtle will be there

As if he’s been playing
a little game of hide-and-seek with me-
“Here, you count and I hide”
and he keeps cheating and changing spots
while my back is turned

“Did you find him?” asks Noah.
No, Noah, no. If
I had indeed found him
I’d be jumping with joy

And you’d be in bed, even though it’s 9 o’clock
And bedtime was 8.

I imagine Turtle singing sweet songs
To little Noah, playing a beautiful lullaby
On his miniature mahogany guitar
On the foot of the bed

And then he would drift off to sleep
As turtle snuggled up beside him
And whispered good night
With love on his breath.

At last, I spy a lump at the foot of the bed
And plunge my hand down,
Extracting a 2-inch wide stuffed turtle
Barely big enough to cuddle.

The boy lays down
And goes to bed.

Five minutes later,
Wailing. The baby’s first tooth
Is breaking.





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