The Baffled King

by Rob Taylor

Silence, then shapes, then his voice
comes like a hand slowly, slowly
opening a door. Wash cloth, we say
as we show him the wash cloth.
Stingray, he says, trolling it through
bubbles. Muffin, he says, bunching it
into a cup. He puts a toy skateboard
on top of a doll. Cowboy hat.
He places one pumpkin seed
beside another. Butterfly.

Beside his crib I sing him a song
about pleasing the Lord. Fire, he’d said,
peeking into the bowl of popcorn. Looks like fire.
Then together we’d placed it inside our mouths.
Through the cracked door I see my wife
in the kitchen pouring our tea, her hand
gripping the elephant trunk. Composing,
composing, until he’s wordless again
and I slip out, like every night, silent
and formless in the sudden light.

— from Juniper Volume 3, Issue 1