Christmas morning provides the occasion for this poignant and vaguely disturbing poem about the sometimes convoluted relationships between mothers and sons.
Christmas morning, gifts under the tree.
One for you, long and heavy.
Remove bows, foil, and lid.
Inside lies a child, a boy, seventeen.
He’s your new son.
Like so many gifts, the Prodigal Boy Kit
requires partial assembly. Easy, if you follow
directions. First, lay out the pieces—
arms and legs on the floor, now the head.
Do not open the bag of organs yet.
Next, attach limbs to torso,
using the screws and bolts.
A lug wrench is enclosed for convenience.
Tighten and tighten until your arms ache.
Insert the organs and take your time.
They’re color-coded for ease of assembly.
Of course, and wouldn’t you know it,
though the attached certificate asserts
Lila Watkins inspected the kit
at our Michigan plant prior to shipment,
essential pieces are missing.
There’s no tongue. This boy won’t speak.
And no brain will ever go where a brain ought to be.
Look at the irreplaceable heart, already broken.
Batteries—eight double A’s—not included,
and Christmas morning, nothing’s open,
not even the 7-Eleven. This boy won’t run.
Maybe it’s better this way.
See how nicely he sits at the table.
This boy can’t get in trouble, won’t stir
in his sleep, won’t ever turn
eighteen. He’ll last forever.
This boy’s durable.
This boy won’t break.
—from What Feeds Us (Wind Publications, 2006)
Read Diane Lockward’s poem “A Boy’s Bike”
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