Object Permanence

At first, your new baby
will not have a developed sense
of Object Permanence.
Your new baby
does not believe
anything exists
without immedi-
-acy. And even then
we don’t know how
even those “immediate”
things are believed in by
your new baby.
Your new baby
will soon learn Object
that what it drops
and loses sight of
comes back – especially if
your new baby
proposes to execute
of effort and patience –
to its very own
hands. Especially
your new baby
will learn that you
have not disappeared
when you bend down
to pick up whatever
it is your new baby
beside the changing table.
Until your new baby learns
Object Permanence,
never bend down.
Or play peek-a-boo. Or
your new baby
will be startled!
When your new baby
learns Object Permanence
it will join you
in the confidence
that keys in the coat
pocket await us faced
with a lock, and that the nickels
and other change
thrown into the snow
are unannihilated.
Your new baby
will learn Object Permanence
forever. And unlearn it, too
pencil after lost
pencil and people, too,
and, well, that
is well known                                                                                                      
and sad.
But what else,
you may ask,
will your new baby
mis-learn against ample evidence
without dropping it
altogether through bad pockets
or turned attentions?
And your new baby
would be depressed
by this question
except it implies
that you and your
new baby
never learned
Object Permanence
as a rule so much
as the possibility
of the absence
of the opposite.

▪︎ ▪︎ ▪︎

Justin Jamail, originally published as "At First Your New Baby" from Hanging Loose.  © 2015 by Justin Jamail. Reprinted by permission of Hanging Loose Press.  Source: Hanging Loose, Issue 106 (Hanging Loose Press, 2016)