Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Teaching Luca Mr. Potato Head

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He taps the floor with splayed fingers,
shakes his autistic moon face at the ceiling's

florescent bulbs, marble blue eyes
cocked right. I'm supposed to teach him

to play appropriately, so I unlatch
the storage box lid and place two plastic

potato torsos on the carpet between us,
then spill a salad of lime green, pink, red

and white body parts by Luca's folded leg.
I loop my thumb and pointer around

his bird bone wrist, brush his palm
across the brown plastic form. "Do this,"

I say, taking a clam-shaped ear from the pile,
sliding its stem in the spud's side hole.

He tilts his head to scan the toy, lifts it
to his wet mouth and grunts agreement.

Then the boy's brain rattles into my world
long enough to pick a white arm and

plant it in his doll's coned head. Together
we become minor gods, our hands

clawing the spare parts pile until my doll
stands, like the sample picture's twin,

on blue sneaker feet, green backpack
slung over its crooked elbow, and Luca

has sculpted Picasso's dream -- waxy lips
talking out the ear hole, google eyes

in place of teeth, antennae arms raised
to grasp satellite words. Luca gives his beast

a drooling smile, then rotates his wrists
to sign "All done." I wouldn't change a thing.

Winner of the 2008 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, Cheryl Dumesnil’s books include a collection of poems, In Praise of Falling, and a memoir, Love Song for Baby X: How I Stayed (Almost) Sane on the Rocky Road to Parenthood. She is a regular contributor to and Huffington Post. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her wife and their two sons.

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