I hold this doll, but not a doll—
the faintest breath upon my cheek,
the slightest movement of the chest
remind me now: this is no doll.
Just hours ago I dressed this babe—
with trembling hands and quaking heart,
I clums'ly stretched the fine twined shirt
over her head: just like a doll.
Her mother sleeps in yonder room—
exhausted, tired, in slumber blest,
she rests from yesterday's long toil,
unaware: I hold her doll.
I had never held a babe
until today, until this babe,
nor felt so faintly blown against
my hairy cheek: an angel's breath.
Sweet innocence has closed her eyes—
she cares not that my hands are rough
nor that I know not what to do;
gently, she sleeps within my arms.
And when she wakes, what shall I do?
Another first? A diaper's change?
And when she grows and needs much more
than my strong arms? I'll love her then.
©James Garner 7 July 2005