The Almost-Boy

 

Liar! yelled God. But Geppetto was the kind of father

who liked to knock things into place. First

was a grin on his terrible face (he held it there

with nails, he held it there with resolution).

The second was Mr. Bones, that loose-

 

hinged, cartilage-jawed Whatsit.

Rubbing him raw from inside his loose death.

(He took out his ball peen Forever and ran himself up

a boy.) Which was also the third thing, the boy,

wailing like a ghost in the wailing season.

 

Stop! begged Geppetto. But the boy

had set himself off like a car alarm

beneath the flight paths of magnetic geese.

Ah, my son, my son! God had Geppetto by the neck

and was shaking him out

by the folds of his argument.

The fourth thing was lies, the fifth what lies

half-buried. Some damn thigh bone

of a bleached raggedy story. The sort of thing

that fathers whistle up, spitting in their palms

 

and knocking on wood. The last thing and the one after that,

was crookedness.

Which is the difference between pain,

and pain without explanation. A limp creature

jerking between two crossed sticks.

 

They were trying to quicken the Almost-Boy,

God in his lab coat and Geppetto in his wings.

But he kept getting tangled in the mesh

of cat flaps and cradles and strings.

The distance pain travels to be grounded in flesh.