I ran over to touch her little feet. They were miniature toes with even tinier nails, she was just ten weeks old and still looking shocked to be in a world of sunlight and sounds that come from all directions. She looked at me with gray-blue eyes. I had been wearing my glasses all day while working in the bright rays of spring, but as I looked at her, I remembered to take my glasses off instantly. It was as if another well of knowledge opened up, the part of me that knew this was different, that this required contact without barriers.
I looked at her while her dad held still, maybe she felt his breathing, she was suspended on his chest, but whatever he was thinking about or doing, he held still and Amma and I looked at each other until she looked away. Her father wore her like a precious necklace upon his chest, or perhaps the tangible creation of his love, worn right above his heart. The baby smelled of milk and newness.
This little thing did not exist 11 months ago. Her material form, her body, her eyes, her crying, her name…none of it was here. And then she came, from a place I wish I could remember, a place I wish she could recount in colorful stories that would paint my dreams in extra dimensions. But is the price of travel paid for in language? Or did she come from a place that spoke in other ways? Without a shared language between us now, I look into her eyes and hope she sees the stars that have collided. I search in her grayness for the missing pieces of the sentence.
She is a piece of this earth now. A piece of matter that breathes and cries and sleeps and looks at her surroundings. She grew inside of a woman and came out into arms that were waiting. She took a breath and began her life here, in this place, with that little body, to these particular parents.
Is it the smallness of her, the helpless body that needs constant nourishment and attention to survive, is that what strikes me? Is it the strange materialization of a new human that is so natural and yet, so completely surreal? Where did you come from, Amma?
She looks at the trees and the faces that coo at her without judgement, she seems without character, without personality. An empty vessel which will quickly be filled with words and ideas and thoughts and taught how to count and tell time. Soon she will be polluted and the smell of milk will fade, will she be able to remember why she came and what she left behind? Will she learn to use her new language to describe her experience coming through the tunnel and filling her lungs with air?
I am filled with questions which cannot be answered with words. So I wait, and work. Soon, I will journey through that tunnel again. Maybe next time I will remember.