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Imaginary Hero

by Billy Thrasher


Last weekend with your mother, a splinter

of wood from the handrail of your grandpa’s

stair dug its way into your hand – a brown sliver,

encased in a muddy yellow puss-cushion

on your palm just below your thumb, too deep

to dig with a needle. Tuesday evening, you

were calm and shrugged your shoulders

while I removed my glasses, holding them

in my mouth, and with my nose against your thumb,

inspected the splinter, again and again

until you left Thursday morning. I hoped

that when you returned Friday evening, it would

still be there, so I’d be the one who pulled it out,

to show you the relief on my face, to

make my eyes brighten, to lift a constant concern

of mine. Friday, it was still there, still taunting

me. I had until Sunday. You played peacefully

while I stood guard like a Surgeon. Many times,

you surrendered your thumb to me as I inspected

the splinter. I’d played the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the

Easter Bunny, a soccer coach, a tutor,

and more. This time, Sunday afternoon

before you left, I became the hero. 

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