Saturday, October 30, 2010


The TV was on and its volume was turned very low. I watched the bright Technicolor images move across the screen though eyes that were almost ready to shut. Letting my body melt into the plush suede cushions, I held the remote in one limp hand, ready for another attack of toothpaste and car insurance ads.
In front of me, people in bikinis and board shorts were furiously diving through a pool of mud, frantically rooting through the mess for little bags of sand in an attempt to reach the blue finish line ahead of the pack. As the screams of the contestants came through the living room speakers, I heard a faint sound from the other room, something foreign to the sound of cheering and sloshing that came to me through electric magic and science, or science that was so amazing, it was magic. Aiming the remote at the cable box, I turned the volume even lower and strained my ears for the sound, had I heard something?
Waiting…fixing my eyes on the hardwood floor…waiting…there it was, a little cry.
I left my embedded place on the couch and opened the door to the babies' room, where two dark wooden cribs sat against opposing walls, perhaps clearly defining the roles they would one day assume when they were grown men and left their wooden cribs and baby blankets.
Jonas, the six month old and the younger of the two, was crying. As I looked into the crib, I saw him on his back, his little legs wriggling in his sleeping bag-like-jumpsuit that covered both his legs. His tiny hands were balled up in fists.
Reaching into the crib and pulling his little body towards mine, his cries came up to envelop me. He was unable to clearly say what bothered him, but something was not quite right. Was it the lack of light? Was he lonely in his crib surrounded by only darkness and tall bars? I brought him to my chest, covering his body with my arms, stroking his head of thin silk hair, bringing him as close to my heart as I could.
I remembered the song practiced years ago while standing in a circle of three in a dimly lit room, it was the melody I strained to reach when it leapt up the scale. I sang it here now, in this dark room. I sang it for Jonas, ‘nothing ever has happened, nothing ever will happen…”
Over and over, the two line song came out, reaching up and then descending only to start over once again. He stopped crying quickly and I held him in front of me, propping his jumpsuit covered legs on my stomach. Jonas looked at me with alert wide eyes, eyes that were quickly turning from baby blue to a metallic brown. He wiggled slightly, his body bobbing and moving with currents of electricity and unanswered curiosity.
I stopped singing and looked into him, seeing nothing that can be explained, defined, or understood.
“You know,” I said clearly, “nothing has ever happened, nothing ever will happen.”
His eyes widened. We went into each other then, me looking into him looking into me. I understood it. Him looking into me looking into him, understanding.
There was no woman, no baby, no crib or parents at a party. There was no game show on a television in the other room and no sore muscles from a day standing in the sun.
Here the words made sense, in a chamber of feelings without words. In this place, we were the same thing, two parts of the same fabric, not separated by bodies and memories or contorted into a canvas of unequal shapes and designs where egos dance.
I had spoken and we both had heard. His sudden jolting was mine as well. Oh yes, nothing has ever happened. Nothing ever will happen. Nothing ever has. Nothing ever will.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Beauty Of Loss

I see thousands of pretty sights.

There are lush and delicate weeping willows whose long drooping branches blow gently in the hot September breeze. I glimpse them as my car continues along at 45 an hour on a newly paved street. I smile, seeing the contrast between the long green branches covered in tiny leaves and the dried up hillsides in the background. I know I will never be here again.

Each vision is beautiful and ephemeral, slipping from sight just as fast as I look.

I am sitting in front of a bread bowl of clam chowder in Monterey. My parents and sister share the wooden table of the restaurant with me. I look up through the front of the restaurant which only has a wide-open roll up door, there is no barrier between us and the foggy day outside. There I see her, walking on the worn wooden pier. A young woman with short dark hair and dark eyes. She’s wearing a low-brimmed hat from the 20s which covers her eyebrows. For a second I see her. She’s smiling brightly, her eyes revealing flirtation and mischief as she turns to someone behind her and smiles even more broadly. She looks like a painting, like a vision. Her body keeps moving though her head and eyes are focused on something behind, a young man, I imagine.

I see thousands of pretty sights. Each vision is beautiful and ephemeral, slipping from sight just as fast as I look. Each worthy of a photo but I can’t even grab it fast enough.

I’m on a train weaving through the Italian countryside. It’s fall and the sky is heavy with gray clouds. As we move at seventy miles an hour, I catch a glimpse of lives beyond the train window. Women hanging up their laundry on old cords between barren trees. Huge persimmon trees with bulbs of orange fruit hanging like Christmas lights on a dark fall day. An old woman walking with a bramble of sticks balanced on her head.

I see thousands of pretty sights. Each vision is beautiful and ephemeral, slipping from sight just as fast as I look. Each worthy of a photo but I can’t even grab it fast enough. They roll in me, through me and pass by just as quickly.

There are people sunbathing on a long cement wall buffered from the Mediterranean by a few dozen feet of large white rocks. I watch the hundreds of sunbathers through the tempered glass of an air-conditioned bus. On my ears are large headphones pumping the hard beats of a Bjork song. As each beat drills into my ears I match it with my eyes, jumping from one person to the other. The tan lovers, the older man laying down his towel, the group of girls sweating in the sun, the mother and toddler. A collection of people moving past me in perfect rhythm to the sounds in my ears. I quickly grasp the moment, feeling its preciousness slipping with each second. The song will end, the cement wall will not go on forever, the bus will change lanes. Soon it will end but as I watch I am struck with each moment of beauty. They mark me as I pass, weaving their way inside without even seeing me inside the bus. I wonder how I could even look at them without the music, they fit so perfectly together. But as the song ends, coming artfully to a close, the bus shifts and the wall ends. Tears rush to my eyes.

I see thousands of pretty sights. Each vision is beautiful and ephemeral, slipping from sight just as fast as I look. Each worthy of a photo but I can’t even grab it fast enough. They roll in me, through me and pass by just as quickly. I gasp and cry, letting salty tears pay the price for the beauty that moves past, forever marking me, for a passing moment, making me remember.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rockabye Baby

I heard him from the living room as I was browsing TV listings with a responsive remote, heard the small little gasps he made seeking air to fill his little lungs. By the time I opened the door to his bedroom, the gasps were turning into high pitched wails. I reached into the wooden crib and opened my hands for his little body, bringing him to my chest. I carried him from the room, leaving his brother in the arms of his own dreams in the darkness.
“What’s wrong baby?” I asked with concern, giving his downy covered head a few soft kisses.
In the dim light of the hall, just a few steps from the kitchen, he was not consoled. Wiggling in my arms between gasps for air, his face contorted into a red mess of anger. A sudden fear ran through me, “he’s choking.” I held him upright and patted his back and he cried harder. He wasn’t choking, just mad.
“What’s wrong baby?” I asked with a smile, looking at him.
His face was completely red and his little mouth opened wide with each wail, showing the pink soft gums that would one day house two rows of teeth.
Cradling him in my arms, we went back into his bedroom, I groped around his cradle for the pacifier I expected to find in the left corner. When my hands found nothing, I turned on the light to look again, I still didn’t see it, though I had the memory of his father placing it there earlier. I took a quick look at Noah sleeping in the other crib against the wall, his body in a contorted angle on one side, undisturbed by the noise.
Jonas continued to scream, and we walked back into the hall, taking a few steps to the kitchen. Moving him into another position in my arms, I scanned the kitchen, searching for another pacifier and finding one the side of his automated jumper. I inserted the pacifier into his open, crying mouth, he did not latch on.
I brought him into the living room and sat on the suede couch. I sat him on my lap.
“What’s wrong baby?” I asked smiling at him.
I kissed his head again, feeling the few wisps of his silken hair on my lips. I tried the pacifier again, he didn’t want it.
“What’s wrong baby?”
Not a bit of anger or agitation in my voice, just pure questioning.
“What’s wrong honey?”
I tried holding him in a variety of ways, but nothing seemed soothe him.
Then my eyes fell on the mechanical baby swing by the window. I tried to lower him into the seat, bumping his little head on the three stuffed animals that dangled from the upper plastic arm of the mobile. I realized that his legs couldn’t spread because of the baby suit he was in, it was like a sleeping bag over his legs that snapped at his chest like a vest. I pulled him towards me again, brushing his head against the stuffed hanging animals once more. I let out a little embarrassed laugh and his little face scrunched tighter.
I unsnapped his jumper and then his legs were free, I lowered him into the seat. There was a seatbelt, but I didn’t worry about snapping him in. I sat right in front of him, just inches away and turned on the swing.
“Rockabye baby, on the tree top…”
I held out my two index fingers and he grasped them, holding on tight with his own little fingers. I looked at him, his eyes were still all scrunched up and wet, his mouth was open, showing his red gums.
“when the wind blows, the cradle will rock…”
On the edge of my mind, I remembered the preschool I had worked in for a week, one of the little boys there liked the song, “itsy bitsy spider,” and we sang it to him over and over when he was crying.
“when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.”
I opened my eyes wide as I sang, smiling at him.
After repeating the song several times, insisting on the melody, his crying slowed, then eventually stopped.
He looked at me, with his eyes that were turning from blue to brown. They would open wide as I reached for the high notes with my voice. I pushed on him gently with my fingers even though the machine was rocking him, pushing just a little so he could feel me. He looked at me, seeing me, seeing deeper than what was available in the mirror. I looked into him, seeing beyond the baby, seeing a universe of beings.
“Rockabye baby, on the tree top…”
As I sang, and as his crying became a thing of the past, he would break out into a quick smile every now and then when our contact grew strong, then he would sharply turn his head to the left or the right, grasping for something with his open mouth.
I kept singing, kept looking at him, kept providing a bit of pressure with my fingers as he rocked up and down on the swing. He repeatedly returned my contact, his eyes opening wide from time to time, perhaps seeing sound and feeling color. Between phrases I would purse my lips and blow on him gently, letting my breath move across his soft face.
Experimenting, I stopped singing for a moment. When I did, his body would start to squirm once again, preparing to cry.
“rockabye baby, on the tree top…”
I started to forget the lines, or I was repeating them so much, it seemed like there were lines I had skipped, but I kept going, dropping any armor and image, just giving my rawest self.
Soon, I felt like improvising and started making up another melody. From time to time, I went out of tune, and found it difficult to get back. I kept my eyes open, a smile on my face even when I remembered another me that would care about performance.
But here, with him, my desired image was easily dropped. I felt only love for this being in a little body. We could be together without my human ways, I could give my voice to him, calm him, love him with my most intuitive self.