Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Teddy Bear from London 

Beneath the family reunion
in a room at the far corner 
of the long tall house of many empty rooms
under the arguing, and under
the even louder silence

I got close to the basement window. 

The glittery but velvety 
blue and white of the night, 
stars and moons and undiscovered planets
came washing through the glass, cold 
as a silver pan of water right in the face
and there he sat, looking at me—my
Teddy Bear from London. 

He’d been there when I was two,
riding with me in the pram 
under Big Ben and the Parliament,
the Beatles and the Rolling Stones 
somewhere around town, and then
two months later
making me two years and two months old
my dad died. Wham-o!

Well, I was two (and two) so 
I didn’t know him anymore 
than I knew the Beatles and the Stones. 
But he died, so I didn’t know him anymore. 

The Teddy Bear was there, though
in full consciousness. 
His little black eyes shining, 
but things—life, and death—getting in them; 
he saw it happen. 

I had him perched on white pillows
in the moonlight, the black eyes glittering
like they were coming in from the next galaxy, 
but still, a pal, a friend from the baby years. 
By this night, he was a 60-year-old Teddy Bear, 
all his British-made inner works
springs or coils or whatever brass he has inside
must be about to break, so ... 

... with that in mind, I looked him the eyes
snuggled him closer, 
touched the brass twist knob 
in his dirty furry back 
and began to wind him up. 

Silence. Then ... 
Tink   tink   tink   tink   tink, 
trying for a song, but only 
tink   tink       tink                         tink. 

I hugged him, poor little guy, trying
then he started talking. 
In full sentences; I was incredulous, naturally. 
(You'd use that word, too!) 
But when I looked over Teddy's shoulder
out the basement window into the velvet blue and white wash 
of forever, I thought: hell, anything’s possible!

I looked at Teddy. He was talking—

"Your Father had headaches day and night
way before you came to London with your mother and sister. 
I was alone with him, I'd sit with him by the fireplace 
at night (him lighting cigars off the flames, 
my fur warmed up by themafter he bought me for you, 
for your first London Christmas. 

"He'd walk around the flat, through all the rooms,
missing you all, sheets of paper in his hands maybe
from his new job; he didn't look at them, didn't sit down. 
He'd prop me up in the window so he could see me, 
wave up at me, when he came back from his walks 
around London all night. I saw him go up the alley,
shaking his head, talking to himself. 

"Then you all came over and he was better. But not his head. 
I saw him down the hall in the bathroom 
one morning after Christmas
he fell off the toilet, hit his head on the bathtub
on the way down to the floor (it must have hurt him),
you had me by the arm, and you bounced down the hall, 
dragging me down toward him. On the floor he rolled over,
smiled up at us, and said a word to you—PUCK.
He looked at me and said: Tell him! He's puckish! 

"Then, his eyes got like mine.
Your sister and mother came down the hall, crying.
But not us; you stood there, looking at him
I was in your hand, watching you both
and your father was on the floor dead but smiling, at you."

The Bear was finished. We heard the family reunion 
arguing upstairs—measured, precise, and dull. 
Lifeless, and annual.

I got dressed and wound up the bear.

We (mostly me) tiptoed upstairs, down the long 2nd floor
hall to my step-father's (or whoever he is) room,
heard the discussion from the dining room below—

I hear what you're saying but I must do what's good
for me/I respect your boundaries, but I feel abandoned/I'll 
need to process that, oh just a moment, let me get that text/ um,
excuse me, but 

—I found my step-father's car keys, and tiptoed
back downstairs, past the dining room, out to the garage.

The Bear said TINK, I agreed, saw the fusebox, and inside,
the Main Power Switch for the long, tall house.
I waited for a lull in the dining room, noticed the garage door
was wide open. I threw the switch.
DARK. nothing.Yet.

I got into the Porsche, sat Teddy down on the black leather,
sat down next to him, and turned the key.

The car roared out of the house like a rocket with a lion inside,
and the Bear went TINK! tink tink tink tink tink tink
(a song, I think, not sure—maybe a beddy bye lullaby)
his eyes blinking under the space ship streetlights flying by

We were many miles and a state away
before I threw the angry-ringing car phone out the window
and turned on the radio.
Out popped a Beatles song—HELP! 

The Teddy Bear was wound up, singing Rolling Stones—
You Can't Always Get What You Want


Then, he took a turn driving.

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