“The present data suggest that, despite their severe growth failure [extreme short stature], social integration and functioning may be satisfactory in ring chromosome 15 patients.”
Fryns, JP. University of Leuven, Belgium. Genetic Counselling 1990;
She will be different, this we know
before scissors ever touch the cord
and the pink flowers of her tiny hands
reach for us, reach to ring your finger
then mine until we become
a circle. We know
before the pediatricians unfold
their arcana, markings bent and crossed
like uncertain frontiers on a parchment map:
here revealed the secret fated pair
recurved, entwined, a ring.
Ring ‘round the moon the night of her birth
portends a child of mystery and mirth;
no, nothing but ice crystals in the stratosphere
and a predictable spectral refraction.
So diligent her suckling, little mouse
at the breast, yet so little amassed –
slender limbs, translucent skin but power
in the spell of smiles she casts on us
while doctors mark their circles, waning percentiles,
half-curved ciphers that drop
whole standard deviations
from the bottom of the graph.
In our garden at midnight a fairy ring
to ward us with magic while planets sing;
no, just the visible fruiting bodies
of a mycelial mass. And toxic!
She walks, but in her own time, not ours,
not theirs, wisp of formidable, sprite
of indomitable, while specialists intone
that her “specialness” might yet suffer
“other effects”; what these might be
no mystic has yet divined, but each night we read
Up the airy mountain, down
the rushy glen to her knowing laugh
like red cap and white owl’s feather.
A golden ring that binds true souls
and opens for them the secret door;
no, just superstitious tradition,
and probably only fourteen karat.
They offer a serum to make her grow,
an infusion of gnosis from the master gland,
but she doesn’t gain one single inch more
than she is meant to; today she settles
her elfin book sack across her shoulders,
first day of school, her head waist-high
to a second-grader, she looks back
to see us there loving her
and forward she steps.
An invisible ring to find us, to bind us,
and of each heart’s true stature remind us;
no, no there’s no rational explanation.
Bill Griffin is a family physician in rural North Carolina. His poems have appeared in many regional and national journals including Tar River Poetry, Poem, NC Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Pembroke Magazine. In 2010 the choral suite The Wanderer’s Carols, lyrics by Bill, music by Mark Daniel Merritt, premiered at Biltmore House in Asheville NC for Christmas. His chapbook Snake Den Ridge, A Bestiary (March Street Press 2008), set in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and illustrated by his wife, Linda French Griffin, can be sampled at http://griffinpoetry.com, where Bill also features work by Carolina poets.
Artwork: Annie Stegg, Thumbelina in the Marsh