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The Gifted Child

Lorna Crozier
From:   Everything Arrives at the Light. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995

Beautiful, ethereal, like a child
imagined for a play, Dominic
born premature five years ago,
still has the look of someone
not ready for this world.

Just before his parents
and their two guests
sit down for dinner,
he places his hands
on the thin woman's belly, says
You are going to have a baby.
The adults laugh.
She has three and at 45,
wants no more.

Like a midget clairvoyant,
he walks around the table,
looks her husband in the eye.
Soon you are going to die.
Someone tries to make a joke.
There is nervous laughter.
Mommy, when you and Daddy die,
I'm going to build a house out of your bones
and there I'll raise my children.

He speaks precisely
and with a slight English accent;
white Namibian, he's a boy who has travelled
an ocean and a continent to be here.

After dinner, the man and woman
who began their drive home
with smiles and teasing,
now shout at one another.
Who's the father? he demands for the third time.
He's had a vasectomy and she is angry
he won't believe the baby's his
(that is, if she's pregnant).
Soon I'll be dead anyway, he says,
I guess it doesn't matter.

In his room Dominic lights birthday candles
to place in his mother's skull
where her eyes used to be.
She is calling from downstairs.
Do you have your pajamas on?
I'm coming up at the count of three.

Dominic tucks his children inside
his mother's head. The rubber mouse named Mimi,
the velvet kangaroo with a penny in its pouch,
the armadillo no bigger than a walnut shell.
One. Two. Three! Dominic stares through
the small round windows at his babies
in their beds. Sleep, he says, and breathes
his warm breath over them. Sleep.
Bone houses are so cold

Lorna Crozier's works copyright © to the author.

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