Substitutes, Or Moon Over Miami

— Dennis Richardson

I was going to call this poem “Placebos”
then realized that was stretching a definition
too far. It originally began with forceps tugging
at his fuzzless head instead of warm
generous hands, the forceps seeming like
the placebo. I told you it was a stretch.

Breast feeding, supposedly unfashionable
at the time, he was fed using a propped baby bottle
not ever knowing the soft pillow touch of the breast
on his cheek and never feeling one, he would wonder
one day if they felt like balloons. My point.

The fact is when he was 22, he learned how to swim
on the blue carpet in his living room. This is called
creativity except for the fact he almost drowned.
Thank goodness he didn’t try to fly. This was when he
signed up for some kind of brain study at the hospital.
Half the control group would be on medication, the other
half on placebos. He hoped he would get the placebos,
hence the old title.

He had been listening to the radio when The Three
Tenors began singing. He thought Placido sounded
like placebo. Just then the announcer said Placido
Domingo would be in Miami to sing on Sunday.
“Placebo Domingo sings here tomorrow,” he said
out loud. It made him smile. And the hospital
was in Miami. He loved coincidences like that.
He could get the CD.

Then he thought maybe the only thing wrong
with him was bad timing. Maybe he’d go see Placido
placebo on Sunday instead of going to the hospital
on Monday. He smiled. That made him feel better too.
He decided to set the table for an early breakfast
tomorrow. Let’s see, he thought, I’ll place the crescent
shaped banana on the table just above my empty
white cereal bowl. I’ll call it “Moon Over Miami.”

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