baby blanket

“Baby Blanket No. 1”, “Baby Blanket No. 2” and “Baby Blanket No. 3”

In Poetry Issue Three by Dudgrick Bevins

Baby Blanket No. 1

Her body was found in the basement,
A knotted rope around her neck,
Head caved in, oozing blood
Through a soft white blanket.
They said it was her favorite and
So hard to keep clean
With her dragging it, room to room,
Yet her mother managed –
Like good mothers do –
With frequent washings
And bottles of bleach.

Its softness held her then
In the cold darkness
Of the house’s bowels,
Warming her as she cooled,
Becoming, slowly,
As white as her blanket
And the Christmas snow
Were both supposed to be,
But actually, like Santa’s suit,
Everything was turning red,
Leaving only trim.

Someone had been holding her
The way one might hold a dying dog,
One loved, one being put down.
Someone had been holding her,
Holding her still, in place,
One hand over her mouth
And the other stroking the forehead,
The cushion for her crown.
Someone had been holding her
Before mourning her,
Before smashing her into silence,
Letting her golden curls go red.

It could have been her brother,
Tired of competing with a living doll.
It could have been her mother,
Jealous of a spotlight shared.
It could have been her father,
Heavy atop her fragile body, or
It could have been a “client” –
A “John” gone wrong. Still,
It could have been Santa Claus,
Showing her he lived in the heart.

Maybe she was hiding down there,
Eating pineapple and crying,
Hiding from the accumulated shame
Of wetting the bed
And disappointing parents.
Imagine a six-year-old girl
Bashed in the head
With a flashlight or a gold club,
Blood collecting on her blanket.

She is silent now,
Perfect and beautiful –
Kept warm forever.

Baby Blanket No. 2

Without a name
He is reduced to a set of evidence,
Numbered items collected
From his makeshift grave.

There is, of course,
Item A: the funerary box, cardboard,
Something that once held a bassinet.
Item B: the blanket –
A hasty wrapping, I’ll admit,
But possibly a thoughtful one,
As if someone had wanted
To keep him warm.
C: the fallen locks of hair, blond,
That clung to his naked body,
Freshly cut for the occasion of death.
D: the blue corduroy hat.
E: a child-sized scarf.
And F: a pure white handkerchief.

And still,
There is the matter of the body:
Shaved with
Surgical scars on his chin,
Ankles, and genitals.
Malnourished and gaunt.
Unmistakably dead.

He is still waiting to be named.

There are theories (opinions) –
Take them if you want –
But know they’re all unsubstantiated:
Garbage, mostly,
With a mix of nonsense.

Take, for instance, the medium
Who wandered blindly through the woods and bogs
To find an orphanage,
With blankets, a similar white
To that of his death shroud,
Hanging from clotheslines,
Waving against a grey sky.
There, as well, were bassinets,
Lining the walls and holding babies
That no one else would hold.
The psychic said the boy in the box
Was born out of wedlock
To the daughter
Of the proprietor of the house,
And that they killed the boy
To save themselves the shame.

But she was not his mother, and
He is still waiting to be named.

Forty-fives years later,
A pseudo-confession
From a mad woman
Who talks in images. She says,
The boy was purchased
From his birth parents.
And came out of a box, like a doll,
For her mother to play with;
A toy for sick and violent games,
Like pin-cushion and surgery,
Like little girl and love doll.
And when he threw up one day,
His vomit, a spewing fountain
Of filth and food stuffs, half chewed,
And whatever other gruel
She’d shoved down his gullet
With biceps and funnel.

Others suspected
He was forced to live as a girl,
And that no one recognized him now,
In death, because,
With his head shaved,
He finally looked like a boy.
They imagined him,
And reimagined him,
With big loose curls and a dress.
Signs with two pictures:
Have you seen this boy,
Or maybe this girl?
And then what of the old cut,
The healed up seam,
That scar between his legs?
Had someone threatened, or tried,
To carve him up,
Make him into a pumpkin
Or a potato head,
Giving him only the parts they want.

Sixty years later, and
Still no one knows who killed him.
Sixty years later, and
He is still waiting to be named.
Waiting for a home.

Baby Blanket No. 3

Five pounds could be
A bag of rice,
A sack of potatoes or flour,
Or a chihuahua,
Five pounds could be
A table lamp,
Or baby left to rot
Not far from the Everglades.

Swaddled in a rainbow blanket,
Decomposing in the grass,
Surrounding her,
Four empty matching quilts
And one red bucket
And a discarded sweater.

She was white, raceless,
Having faded from the sun and water,
But her hair was still black.
A pale and nameless daughter.

About the Author

Dudgrick Bevins

Dudgrick Bevins is an artist an educator from North Georgia. He now lives in New York City with his partner and their very grumpy hedgehog, Ezri. He teachers creative writing and literature.

Read more work by Dudgrick Bevins .

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