Stuffed Animals

Pink bunny, bear, phoenix, penguin

They stand upon a row of guitar cases
(These four guitarists of the apocalypse?):
A bright pink bunny
A penguin with a red bow tie
A scarlet orange bird I like to call a phoenix, and
A teddy bear whose joints are mostly mending and
Whose scanty artificial fur is mostly worn away.
My merry melancholy troop of memories.

The oldest is the bear (of course)
Whose presence comforted my nights
From nigh my birth.
My mother’s fingers held the needle
Seeking stronger cloth beyond the rips and ravels,
And left the thread that holds this bear together.
A little boy is rough on bears!
Each shiny patch where fake fur wore away
Declares a multitude of fierce embraces
Tumbles down a hill
Mad dashes clutched in sticky hands
Relieved retrievals from that spot beneath a tree
Where this forgetful, careless boy had left him
To dissolve in tears until a kind exasperated parent
Recovered him again.

The bright pink bunny was not mine to start.
He rested on the pillow of my mother
As she endured the last months of her life.
Recurring cancer struck and laid her low,
Restricted her ability to speak
And made her final bed one in a hospital.
The bunny joined a host of other gifts
Designed to comfort one whom many loved.
And when she died, the bunny went with me
In a green Plymouth Valiant
Back to school
Despite a lingering sexist part of me
(It lingers still, I know)
That isn’t fond of pink.

I won the scarlet bird at a game of chance or skill –
It’s hard to tell those games apart upon the midway of a fair.
As I recall, I offered him to someone that I loved
(It might have been another prize, some other time),
And she said, “No.”
Not so long after, she said, “No,” to me.

Standing tallest: Opus, figure from a comic
Popular when I attended college
(Strange the power those brief years
Hold now so many decades hence).
It is an early Opus (Opus one?);
I can tell because his beak grew markedly
While the comic lasted.
I found a kindred spirit in this penguin
Who combined a wonder at the world
With certain squeamish reflexes
And funny guilty pleasures:
“Actually, I enjoy this is the same awful way
That I enjoy the ‘A-Team.'”
I always pitied the Pinocchio direction
Taken by the artist. This nose looks best to me.

They stand upon a row of guitar cases
(These four guitarists of the apocalypse?):
A bright pink bunny
A penguin with a red bow tie
A scarlet orange bird I like to call a phoenix, and
A teddy bear whose joints are mostly mending and
Whose scanty artificial fur is mostly worn away.
My merry melancholy troop of memories.

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