Child’s Play

Carrie Jerrell

BPR 46 | 2019

Little thumb-sucker. Little mouth-breather. Little wetter
of the bed I will never tuck you into, my womb

is a trinket not meant to be touched, a souvenir cup
in the back of the cupboard. The mothers complain

of not sleeping, of their bodies gone soft as the soil.
I pretend them into stones I can skip across water.

I pretend I am their better. In the store aisle, I choose
which toys I’d buy for you: yes to the purple rabbit,

yes to the big green tractor, yes to the blocks of wood
with which to build a home. I say no

to the masked man and his blood-bright sword, familiar
already with knives and their edges, the wounds

they can make in bodies like mine. Yes to the smiling
doctor and pink stethoscope, yes to the bandages

made of yellow stars. I pretend none of this hurts,
I’ve been fixed right up. I’m as good at pretending

contentment as any doll. Little empire, little stranger,
little sorrow tucked in the crook of my elbow,

your name is a word I will mouth but not sound,
sound being sibling to existence and mother of song.

I pretend I can’t hear that music. I pretend it again, again.