Santa in Three Parts

Natalie Padilla Young | Poetry

A pair of stuffed Santa pants lives
at our house, once part of a whole
on clearance at Walgreen’s. Some genius

designed Santa’s body in three parts:
head + torso and arms + pelvis and legs.
Each third held to the next by velcro.

The last section is what gets attention—
Santa booty here, Santa booty there—torso replaced
with a very small tennis ball. Sometimes

Santa booty bounces along the floor as brilliant
yellow hits polished wood, paws and teeth
grab a flailing boot. The segments

had squeakers, but anyone with a dog knows
Santa’s voices were quick to go. The new puppy adores
Santa’s pants, just like the puppy before

who never wanted Santa’s absent head
attached. Now that puppy is a dog,
and the puppy before him is old, so old her own limbs

flail, slip enough on the same wood floor,
we buy her booties—a gift of traction
but not the will to go

after toys. Puppy brings Santa over
again: throw the booty, bring back, tug, throw,
bring. Between launch and pull,

very old, very good dog appears,
not because she cares about the game. I don’t
honestly know what

her because has become.
But if I was very old and very good, I’d want someone
to stop that stupid baby

from tearing up Santa’s final piece and then lie:
how rested and happy the missing head must be.