Hero (Boy Wonder)

Every morning, a different person greets me in the kitchen doorway.
Good morning, Spiderman.
Good morning, Batman.
Good morning, Captain America.

You announce yourself with a flourish of cape,
a flash of sword, a roundhouse kick,
and I ooh and ahh like I always do,
admiring your prowess, your strength,
and of course, your fashion sense.

Yes, I see you.

Iron Man wears a blanket for armor
and holds his hand over his face for a mask.
The Green Lantern wears Star Wars underpants
and a kids’ meal ring that glows green.
And the flash? Well…

After a hug and a cup of hot tea, the fight resumes.
You jump through doorways into rooms not yet touched by sunrise,
pummeling the air with all your might,
sound effects included.

Sometimes, you fight off the bad guys so wildly,
you hurt yourself
and return to your secret lair so I can nuzzle your cheek
and whisper I love yous into the side of your goose-egged head.

Thank you, child, for defending the universe
for delivering justice
for remembering when you cuddled on my lap during movies,
asking, “Is this the bad guy?”
“Is THIS the bad guy?”
that I answer, “There are no bad guys,
only regular guys who make bad choices.”

Thank you, child, for shining that green ring light
into shadowy parts of my brooding mind
and vanquishing the monsters there.

And I thank God with each persona you assume
that the enemies you battle have no faces and
no agendas, no national flags,
no political allegiances.
They don’t bear names like Regret, Envy, Fear, Want, or Despair.

I thank God that, for you, danger is easily overcome
with style and a foam sword,
that famine means twenty minutes until dinner
and your brother ate all the Cheez-its,
that the only bad choice the bad guys make
is fighting you.

I thank God that your eyes have not aged from all you’ve seen,
drawing premature lines like a chiseled epitaph
on your unworried brow,
that the night is lit by streetlights and stars
instead of bombs,
and in your dreams, you swing from webs and climb skyscrapers.

I thank God that, in our kitchen, war does not exist.

Yes, I see you.

I will defend our secret lair, child, as long as you can let me.
I will pick up my foam sword and swing it alongside you.
I will tell you nothing of the real bad guys,
the regular guys who make bad choices–
–not yet.

Yes, I see you.

As long as it is possible, the good guy will win.
And as long as you can, you will dream of flying,
and I will put on my mask and cape,
standing silent watch over you
as you sleep.

Jen George


Jen George lives and teaches on the coast of Maine. She writes in her car most of the time. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. Her writing has appeared in Muse, The Stonecoast Review, and The Ginger Collect, The Silver Pen’s Youth Imagination, and the Celebrities in Disgrace blog.

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