John has grown concerned about the emotional well-being of stuffed animals and wooden toys.

The way their button eyes dull with hugging. And their paws lose stuffing and claws. He wants their ears to stay available for listening. But it is alright if their mouths don’t speak. The stuffed ones seem better for hugging, but wood lasts longer, though marked with teeth, you have to wonder just what kind of love that was. One gains a place of honor on the bed. In the toy box a sad little village waits. And a row on the shelf. On the window seat. They miss being touched. They miss being rocked. They would fade in daylight but it would be worth it to see home.

Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

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