Five Minutes with the Baby
- Hank is ruining my shower. I’m a slideshow on TV: campfire-me with my future husband and s’mores, starving-me under graduation robes. And where are all eyes but on fathead Hank. Hank and his chubby-wubby cheeks. Hank and his thimble nose. I didn’t register for this. Hank smells like wet feet and earth. We won’t be getting along.
- I do not want to hold the baby, and especially not Hanky, and really, yes, no. Hank is the sort of baby you put in a bucket. You want him contained. Sit still, Hank. Lie down. Hank dips rotini in Italian dressing. Kraft parmesan looks like dust. Baby Hank looks like a duck. Everyone passes him around, but I won’t ruin my polka-dots.
- There are pictures from most life-events. You can find some from this one, too. You can see me, corsage pinned to my heart. You cannot see Hank. He wasn’t photographed, except in my eyes. Zoom in. There he is, reflected. There he is—cooing at the TV. There he is—a lumberjack.
- In one year, I put Hank in daycare; ladies in jumpers remark on his cheeks. In two years, everyone is surprised he’s called “Lumb.” Lumb as in lumberjack. Lumb rhymes with thumb. Hank is all thumbs. He builds sandcastles with shovels and buckets. He sucks his toes. He likes soft ice cream and rolling on his rug, naked.
- Blow out the candles, say women in my future. They have Ohio thighs and swinish noses. They bought my cake from Sam’s Club. I know that cake. It smells like tires. Flank steak. Gasoline. Like crusty French bread. Aveeno. Do you want champagne, they say? It’s Andre. Do you want a frank in bed? It’s soy. Do you want Hank? He’s a doll.
JoAnna Novak is the Pushcart-Prize-nominated author of three chapbooks Two Fats and a Virtue (forthcoming from Slash Pine Press, 2014), Laps (Another New Calligraphy, 2014), and Something Real (dancing girl press, 2011). A finalist for the 2014 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, her writing has recently appeared in BOMB, Joyland, DIAGRAM, and Guernica. A founding editor of Tammy, she lives in Massachusetts, where she is working on a novel and a memoir.