real boy

pinocchio. lovingly cut from an animated hunk of wood. carved and whittled limb to limb, nose to toe. squeaky knee and elbow joints and all. he feels no pain. knows how to speak. desperately wants to be real. i don't know his story well. still, he reminds me of the boy i never bore, the one who this minute is seated fidgeting and seizurey at my feet.

like pinocchio, the boy i never birthed can talk and run and leap. he can ponder right from wrong. he can read and swim, play hide and seek. he's free from daily pain and misery. he's a boy with goals and hopes and dreams. like pinocchio pines to become, the boy is real as real can be.

i remember the sonogram. the peppery image glowing from a screen. my unborn's' limbs moved as if they were hinged. like a little wooden marionette, but without strings. his legs kicked as if he'd hiccuped. then, like waterlogged sticks, sunk and settled on the riverbed of my womb. secretly, i wondered what might be wrong, his movements so awkward and lumbering. surreal. was he a bona fide boy after all? would he fulfill my coveted dreams of motherhood?

my son's mind didn't grow in sync with his form. he still walks wonky like a marionette—elbows up and crooked, knees nearly knocking, flat-footed, toes drifting inward. but though calvin in many ways is not a real child in the same sense as some of yours (he lacks the ability to do nearly everything independently) he loves and cries and wants and needs and aches and feels. he can't do what pinocchio the wooden puppet can, but i wonder if—and i wager—my boy yearns to be real.

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