The Poetry of
Jack Scott

Pretty Boy’s Baby

One Saturday
we went to the Gunpowder River
between Pretty Boy Dam
and the Chesapeake Bay.
We walked upstream
from the Belair Road Bridge
along a footpath
sometimes used
by horses and dirt bikers.

Midway on our stroll
we heard shots ahead.
The target was vague and distant.
Coming toward us in the current
it looked like a duck.
The gunner fired a .22
quick like diarrhea,
but he could not hit it;
he missed as often as he shot.

The target was a
naked rubber doll
roiling in the river.
Pretty Boy’s baby,
came pinkly bobbing
upside down and all around
at the mercy of the rapids, current
now taking water in
and leaking air
out a red nail polished toe,
pedicured by .22
smacking all around the water,
puncturing the water
smack smack smack
somewhere between the speed of sound
and the speed of light.

She does have hair,
a blonde tuft on top.
Did she have more fun?
Anatomically incorrect,
but she’s a girl,
not as wild a guess as bullet shot
that nicked her rubber toe.
Bottom bruises baby doll,
pinkisher than pink,
not red at all,
no real blood in them.
Cookie-pressed, this Kewpie,
only here for now .
Close up, too close
looked awful to the touch,
like a used condom.

Pink baby
bounced and battered
by the careless water on the rocks,
clashing with the rocks
and leaking-
the rifle prick did that,
an accident on purpose.
Somewhere the doll will sink
into its next half life,
Will I outlast the dollbaby
who sinks her way
toward half-life sea,
ashes to ashes,
mud to mud,
hydrocarbon to hydrocarbon,
half-lives hence?

We waded silently across
to a tear shaped island
silt slimy,
a slugtrail aftermath
of upstream people’s trash.

We made love in the bushes
on a bed of Daylilies,
nested in the ferny matrix,
with Pretty Boy’s baby
now very much in sight,
the bobbing doll
kewpie pinks, yellows, browns
with nipple lips.

Our bodies,
repairing lovelessness
in the rushes,
now struggle to repair love.
Where on earth did we make love?
Where love once was.
Where the kewpie used to be.

We broke daylilies in our sweaty haste
(They only last a day.)
while Pretty Boy’s baby doll
bobbed toward us.
The flowers we had lain upon,
wilting orange yellow,
and she, herself, not pink,
but whites and sun tan browns
and also nipple lips
mouthing pretty welcome
to the dolly.

We picked Vinca minor after
touched mushrooms with our fingers,
squished mud between our toes,
watched sperm-like tadpoles
in a mud pond on the island. trail
A lone dragonfly fooled me.
I’d thought there were two, mating;
there was only one.

We held hands crossing back
our toes evolving passage
mud unto sand
unto rock and soil,
briars and brambles.
She got her pants wet
up to her knees,
pouted them dry.

Let’s follow it, our Kewpie.
It is becomes it was
before we saw it
unless we follow it
as far as we are able.
We had some catching up to do.

Drowning darling baby face
could sink a thousand toy ships,
tour the underwater world
in dips and dunks
and see none of it
through blank plastic eyes.

If my existence depended on it
I could not find later that
bobbing, banging, upside down,
grotesque and floating doll,
its cuteness beaten out of it,
existing out of context.

I was here;
that target doll was there:
a wonderment
that shakes philosophy.
She existed
as long as we could see her.

Fuck it, says philosophy:
when you cannot find it
you must still exist
as if it were not anywhere.
You are found; it is lost.
Therefore, existentially,
it is only lost to you.
She is and will be somewhere,
just no longer here.

If we hurry we can find it
until we can’t.
It floated faster than we could walk
and we couldn’t.

We went away
and never saw the doll again
I still wonder where our love child is.
It might help me to know.

L15 ®Copyright 1974 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.