A Child's Garden of Verses
by Pun

Notes: Begun as a part of the Two Minute Warning fiction challenge. Thanks go to Lenore for beta.

House's mother was obsessed with poetry. A constant stream of verse fell from her lips punctuating the moments of her day. She recited Poe when she cooked, knife chopping to the rhythmic rhymes, and Cummings when she drove, unexpected turns and stops following to his broken-off verses with little regard to practicality. House hated how often this eccentric method of navigation made him late, and when he told his seventh grade homeroom teacher to blame Cummings for his tardiness he got detention for being wise. (To be fair, House got detention for being wise at least once a week with or without the help of infraverbal poets.)

When the leg happens and House suddenly has to cut down on his pacing (and jogging and golf and racquet ball) he's shocked to realize he still remembers his mother's poems. Shelley, Donne, Shakespeare, Catullus and many more whose names he can't remember now (but he remembers their damn verses) all force themselves upon him like a virus that had been hiding dormant in his marrow all this time. The words carry with them memories of giftless birthdays and lonely microwave dinners and worst of all they are further confirmation of his horrible suspicion that he has turned into her.

House may resent the poems, but he gets them now--not their meaning but their purpose. He understands that the recitation for her was the same as physical activity used to be for him. Something to get his mind to stop racing for a blessed half hour, extra applications to slow the processor down, make it stop whirring, buzzing, screaming at him. But House resists. He reaches for the gameboy, the soaps, the booze, the pills--especially the pills--because he doesn't want to hide behind corpses and their words.

And yet, sometimes, when his leg is killing him, and he's beaten every video game (twice), when it's after three a.m., and there's nothing but infomercials on, and he's already had way too many pills, he lies awake, alone, staring at the ceiling and begins, "There once was man from Nantucket . . ."


compliments or criticisms welcome, feedback to pun at popullus.net