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.

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.

blueberry pie

“Enjoy your day”, she said, departing the bakery with a white box in a white bag and a white dog in tow. The bell jangled on her way out the parking lot, where the parking lot teemed with cars; Cars belonging to people also going to bakeries, the back-to-school shopping, and picking up food for takeout. A strip mall on a weekend.

The drive back home is uneventful, this sweet delight in the front seat making the car smell buttery and delicious. A blueberry pie awaits inside, freshly made; Large granule cane sugar, caramelized, sits on top of the upper crust. There are little holes in the lattice, showcasing deep blue squares. The fruit cooks down to delicious gelatin once it’s heated and mixed with sugar. The way this must’ve bubbled in the oven. The anticipation of cutting a slice and cutting the tip with the side of your fork. Perfect with milk or coffee or tea. Food is medicine, even if all it does is cheer you up, or remind you of a memory with a lover and different pie.

What a strange thing to be alive and be human; To have blueberry pie be a thing. Knowing that perhaps there’s a parallel world out there where it’s not, where the blueberry plant did not survive evolution, or become extinct. Or maybe the dinosaurs ate them all. There always seems to be something festive about a pie. The sweet/tart explosion on taste buds and the smell of sugar and butter. Cinnamon and vanilla extract – which I recently saw a Barefoot Contessa video on how to make that fresh; Crazy, wild.

I am also partial to blueberry muffins and crisps and waffles and pancakes. Blueberries just taste so good with carbs. And are also great alone. I’ve been enjoying some with peach and yogurt and cereal lately. It’s like a morning time dessert.

Eyes wide as blueberry pies – That’s pretty wild (and wide). Going off what I need to know, marshaling, pooling my talents together, waiting for it to rain. Also recently saw an Instagram ad of a kind of handrake that combs through the branches of the blueberry tree(/bush?) and the berries fall into the bucket of this handrake. I had never seen anything like it before. Storebought, homemade.

goggles

Underwater keepsakes. Hunting, diving, fishing, looking for shells, for stones, for sand. The water is murky and not clear. Influx of sodium abound and packs a punch to my already stimulated senses. It generates saliva. It makes me spit. Ocean water, salty and sure of itself for what it is. “Whale piss”. But salt is good for you – as long as you don’t overdo it long term.

At first the waves feel cool and cold against overheated, SPF’d skin. There is a tenseness, a trepidation at first. Hair follicles contract. Feet tell the brain: “Icy!” But after a toe comes a foot, and after a foot comes an ankle, and after an ankle comes a calf, which leads to a knee, which leads to the mid-thigh. But then it’s, “Okay, stop!” And now you’re feeling good, but what became bearable to your legs seems a little more unbearable to your upper self. Shuffling forward, your feet sink into course sand. The waves are at your belly now. The seagulls are calling. The lifeguard is watching. There is a din of kids about, splashing and playing and crying and calling out to one another. Goggles protect their eyes from sunscreen, from the irritating salty water of the deep. So that they can see for themselves how murky it is.

I remember once going to Point Pleasant with my dad when I was six. A wave knocked me down so hard and I could not get up. Seconds felt like agonizing eternities as I spun about, unable to resurface. My dad pulled me, my mouth full of seawater and tears, the taste of which I could not tell the difference. I cried and cried. We packed up our stuff. I recall a boardwalk ride that was like a school bus, 2D but going round and round. I think that was Point Pleasant and not Rehoboth in Delaware, where we did spend a few family vacations. These little pinpricks of trauma dot my existence and for better or worse shaped me into the adult I am today. I can still see the murky water, eyes open in fear taking in all around me. “Respect the ocean”, a past high school principal said on the eve of Prom. Chuckling abound in the auditorium as we were all immortal then, and knew no fear. Invincible teenage emotion is a pretty potent drug, it’s a pretty potent state of mind. I’m reminded of those of our graduating class who are no longer with us…Waterfronts and unwelcome sunrises that beam lights onto truth.