mother

Soothing humming by the bassinet. White lace and mobile of stars and moons. It smells like baby powder and fresh air. There’s an open window bringing in a breeze from this cool summer’s day. A cat meows. The walls are painted powder blue and there are little toys put in their places and tucked away in their corners. The baby is sleeping, napping. Mother takes a peach colored blanket with little roses on it, and tucks in her sleeping child. The eyes are closed. Her smooth head rests gently atop a white pillow. No more crying. A pacifier tucked in her mouth as she suckles herself to sleep. Everything is okay, secure. Mother protects, ensures, keeps safe. She leaves quietly, closing the door behind her to ensure the baby will not be disturbed. She hates to part with her babe. She feels it in her heart. The pain of just stepping away a few steps. But she knows she must. But it’s hard, difficult, challenging. She has a baby monitor. She’ll know when the baby wakes up and starts crying and rustling around. She opens a few more windows around the house to let in the fresh air. She makes a sandwich, sews and knits little booties for the baby. She is a multi-tasking witch, doing everything she can to make her house a home and to care for her baby. It won’t be summer forever. The seasons don’t exist in a vacuum. Winter will be here soon and it’ll be time for coats and boots and hats and scarves and little earmuffs. She pours herself some lemonade and stands on the porch looking outward at the barren farmland stretched beyond their home. This child was a miracle, she thinks to herself. This child couldn’t have come at a worse or better time. Just then, she hears the static of the monitor and pauses. A silence follows before the cry. She sets down her glass and reenters through the front door and up the stairs.

glass

Wishing well made of clear cut glass. So thick that to see through it your vision becomes blurry. Optometrist. Making the adjustment. Chiropractor, making the crack. Popcorn kernels stuck in teeth make for a very unpleasant movie afternoon. Sticky soda floor and the big screen. Beer being poured at the bar. The communal nihilism that pervades spaces of pessimistic community. Even the excitables have their doubts. About love, about life, about the regrets which they swear they don’t have. When the bar closes and you’re alone in the stone-walled corner nursing a gin and tonic, mindlessly stirring the tiny black straw with your pointer finger you think about your less than optimal moments. And you wallow in self-pity and wish you could be given 2nd chances to correct everything you didn’t live up to. I drop pennies in the well and wish. A wish is a prayer, at least I believe it can be. A thought bubble that balloons forth and soars skyward toward Jupiter or Mars. Something will run into it, read it and interpret it. Carbonated bubbles do their dance I can see them. They are excitables and they are rushing. Never the Earth knew this sort of Life bubbling. An amoeba that begot a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Land Before Who? I find myself constantly marveling at how mankind has progressed this far at all. Surely, it’s a complete accidental.

trunk

When I say, “yay big”, I hold my hands out about 2 to 3 feet apart. If you rewind the tape and freeze frame it, I am karate chopping with both hands looking quite sure of myself. The VHS fuzz on the top and bottom of the frame. The black, white, grey, spools holding the tape in place. I always need a VHS player at all times. In the garage, before the flood, we had a large Rubbermaid container / bin of tapes. A miracle they didn’t disintegrate from the summer heat. Trunks as in elephant, trunks as in storage. African safari and Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad. What is our history if not through a singular lens? Well, I’ve been to the eye doctor and there are many lenses. They’re kept in cases and drawers. One is sometimes clearer than the other. Sometimes it’s too close to tell. Down in the valley there are elephant bones and as I read a summary of The Lion King I remembered how much I loved that movie as a child, and how that death scene was hard for me. Mufasa not waking up was…traumatic. Media sculpting the mind. Hands of Jeffrey Katzenberg in the clay. Raining tumultuous claymation raindrops. Synchronized swimming. Channel flipping. Angels of direction. The confusion of free will. The juxtaposition that there are some choices that will lead us to the exact same place, spare a few irrelevant details. The nightmare.

grandfather clock

The grandfather clock yawns tall at seven feet. Handmade, antique. It’s been ticking and tocking for 84 years. The wood is a warm walnut, stained darker. The numbers, still dark as if they were just painted yesterday. Holding an ear to the heart of the beast, you can hear heart of it: beating and churning and creaking. On the hour it sounds, ringing and clanging loudly in a room filled with dusty, forgotten treasures; All from a time when silver platters and spoons were customary serving receptacles to a certain race and class, and if the only certainty of life is that people die, then that is confirmed; Their accumulated heirlooms sold, donated, or thrown away.

A child sits in a white bonnet at the foot of the grandfather clock. The hour is late and the child coos, abandoned, finding fascination with her hands. The clock keeps rhythm of the passing hour. Dust accumulates in the antique shop, which sits on the border between dream and nightmare. Depending on the war, its borders can change and will as it suits them, the dreamer. A silver moonbeam makes its way into a window, divided into four smaller squares. It reflects on the floor of the child. Who is she? How did she get here? She is unimpressed, and continually distracted by the realization of fingers and touch and teething. The temperature dips and the clock watches over the floor, wise and all-knowing.

The only enemy of this clock would be a swarm of termites, neglect, or both. But the termites hibernate, too cold to take action. The building creaks and moans in silence, no one there to hear it but this babe, floor-bound, now sprawled on her stomach, rolling over, laughing. The hands of the clock form a lopsided mustache, indicating the early morning hour. A truck engine starts and sputters.

compromise

You talk about compromise like it’s some stick in the mud, some wound to be wasted, infected with oozing pessimism. Compromise like a world awakened and gone back to sleep. Eyes open and shut like cases, like a bag shaken out. I am empty and that’s all that’s left of me. But I want to breathe and believe in something other than magic and happenstance; Something other than Disney fantasy because happily ever after only goes as far as the camera zooms out and fades to black with grand orchestra, sweeping strings, lovely ballads made from consonant upbringings. I’m not saying it’s all gotta be painful and bad, but the story never just ends there. And even if you die alone in Tom Riddle’s house, there was certainly one person you meant in which you inhibited some memory. Imagination stretching outward, dancing darlings come, become crimson in their cheekbones after a long workout. I’m talking about college dorm rooms in November or December; Fresh snowfall and roommates gone home for the weekend. I’m talking letterman jackets and homemade sweaters, fireplace, hot chocolate, lovers gaze under low light. Youthful magic becoming more distant. We are comets, we are meteors, drifting away from the beginnings of our timelines in zero gravity. We are Tom and B’Elanna in spacesuits stranded, but hopefully cradling one another. And if we have to compromise to be there, so be it. There is nothing admirable about gargantuanly taking up space.