Once an Old Flour Sack

Winter comes early and stays late
'round these parts. Wish I could say
I greeted it with a firm handshake,
and we spent all night wondering why
these days the weather tells us it's
coming in our knees and knuckles
and the last game of the World Series.

The winter didn't take a hint though,
and when we finally got tired of its company, it raged on,
insecure and angry.

Mid-December, the heat went out, and my girl found her old bear.
It was a hand-me-down, torn and tattered like all them kid's books bears.
I can't remember where it came from, because
I think,
when I got it,
it was a hand-me-down too.
She snuggled him up close around her neck when the
chill seeped under the window and waged war on the fire.

That thing would dance in the morning with her,
both in their jammies,
eat with her at lunch,
(their favorite was mac 'n' cheese)
listen to her secrets,
hold on to her secrets,
squeeze her hand as hard as she squeezed his.
Close enough to be a friend,
real enough to breathe.

It sang her to sleep, and I could hear their duets through the walls,
holding my wife close, because they were stronger than I.

When school arrived in January,
her bear received an education
and made friends with our neighbor's little boy's bear,
almost as old as hers,
though they said it wasn't age, it was wisdom,
like they heard me repeat several times over.

The thing about being a dad, is that the world freezes,
and your kid perpetually sits in your lap, breathing steady,
until you pick her up and lay her down to sleep.
You kiss her on the forehead, and say a prayer over her
and the world stays perfect.

And then one day,
that bear doesn't move any more.
I always wonder, when I see it on her old bed,
if it's just as confused as I am
that she's suddenly a woman.

-JR Simmang


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