More On “Ode To The Pacifiers”

Dear Reader,

 

On November 26th I posted the first third of Michael J. Henry’s poem “Ode to the Pacifiers.” I was taken by Henry’s humorous descriptions of his daughters’ pacifiers. Today, I was moved by his poem’s bittersweet conclusion, the expression of a father’s fierce, protective love for his daughters, a love my daughters receive from their father. A love every daughter deserves to receive.

 

And now, the poem in it’s entirety.  

 

ODE TO THE PACIFIERS

 

Let those scorn you who never

Starved in your dearth

    ―Robert Pinsky

  

Comfort elixir, sleep-dozer, quiet-plug,

O how you have saved me,

O how you have buttoned and plugged

those grumpy weary O mouths,

O how you have waved sadnesses

away and made darkness for dreams.

Mam, Nuk, The First Years―3317,

molded in Austria, Germany, Taiwan, Philippines,

you are the juicy bait from which I catch

my babyfishes, pull them out of their ocean

of cry and fuss, gently drop them

into the hold in the hull of our house,

where they drift, the new cells

which I have half-made.

Your swallow-guard, hip cradles

under nose, your end a knob

that turns off the volume,

sometimes with a handle

like a purse-strap, your business end

a tan flexible light bulb, fake nipple,

idea bubble, bald man’s mini-head, dirigible,

future tooth crookener they sometimes say―

but really? I do love you so,

I’ve worshipped you, genuflected to you

even though you weave dust and fibers

and momma-hair around

your saliva-slick end,

even though you always disappear,

falling and scattering like a mouse

under counters, car tires, beds,

into heating vents, garbage disposals,

et cetera, et cetera.

Though I have never French-kisssed

you clean, I will never accuse you

of badness. But I do

worry, some nights went I can’t sleep,

nights they are with you: who will someday

coddle them, what will they suckle

if they end up on dark streets

with cruisers, sharks, and other bad

men, my girls gazing into locked storefronts,

their shoelaces untied,

fingernails dirty and uncut, their bodies―

skin and bone that I have so

carefully wrought―grimy and cold?

 

Reprinted with permission from Michael J. Henry.

Found in No Stranger Than My Own.

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