Friday, February 27, 2009

bedtime sweetness...

These days bedtime is extra sweet. Caleb has just gotten into reading a book at bedtime. These days we're reading "The Quiet Evening" by Thatcher Hurd, who is the son of the woman who wrote "Goodnight Moon." It was published in the seventies and is just so lovely in its simple watercolors and poetic text. We snuggle up with the book, his head resting in the crook of my arm. I rub my cheek on the top of his head and smell his little boy hair, soft as corn silk.

Me: At our house, Father and Mother are sitting by the fire.

Him: Patience, baby Lyra, Mommy, cabin, fireplace?

Me: That's right, Buddy. You and Mommy and Patience and baby Lyra went to the cabin and Mommy made a fire in the fireplace.

We have this conversation every night, among other comforting repetitions. Each page has its own corresponding conversation. Sometimes I find myself stretching out story time because I love the feel of him so still and singularly focused in my arms, because I love trying to climb into his mind and see what he sees, because I love listening to his lisp and watching his pudgy fingers point at the pictures. And because I know that soon enough he will be grown and I will long for these days.

After our book, I nurse him down. Some nights I am so tired, so spent, so weary of nursing. But then I think to myself, "Don't rush this. A few months from now he won't be nursing at all." Most nights I sing him a song while we nurse. His favorite is the "Barney" theme song that goes, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won't you say you love me, too?" He laces his fingers with mine and hums along. When I get to the "kiss" part of the song, he puts his hand, still clasped with mine, up to my mouth for a kiss.

Then I kiss his forehead, his plump cheeks, his nose. I tell him I love him, Daddy loves him, Tavish loves him. I ask him if he loves us, and he shakes his head, "No." Though it's too dark to see, I know he is grinning his tricky trickster grin. Then I say, "Yes you DO!" and I tickle him under his chin, and he laughs.

I tell him I'm so happy he was born. I tell him I'm so happy he's in our family.

Then I say, "Night night, Buddy." And he says, "Feet dreams, Mommy."

I lie in the dark with him, listening to his rhythmic breathing, feeling his warm body melt, little by little, into sleep.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

it makes no difference

Love, tonight I'm remembering those days on Grace Street. Those days before the babies came. Those days when we made this song ours...

my hero...

Watch. This. Goal. It had me on my feet, jumping around the living room and yelling. I grabbed my two year-old, sat him on my lap, insisting he watch the replay, all the while bouncing him wildly on my knee and cheering.

My husband? At. The. Game. The bastard. I was so happy for him, though. Can you imagine the noise and celebration in the stands, a sold out crowd rising in one, fluid flash, cheering? Unforgettable.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

everything is everything

I've been listening to this oldie but goodie a lot lately. It started with a little trouble in paradise, which required some Lauryn Hill therapy. Then came the inauguration, which breathed even more new life and meaning into the song. And before I knew it, I was playing it every time I got in the car. For a spell it became my soundtrack, my anthem. A way to get through a hard time. A way to welcome hope. A way to feel like a ghetto superstar. For four minutes. In the SUV with the kids on the way to the grocery store.

I am so white. Sigh...

Barbie Boobie Love

So the other day we're at a friend's house. They have a daughter Caleb's age. The kids are playing nicely, quietly. Then a little too quietly. I look to see what Caleb is doing. He's in a corner on his stomach with a toy, and I can tell by the way he is slightly hunching his shoulders that he's trying to keep what he is doing private. I spy on him. With pursed fingers, he is gently, deliberately pulling Barbie's shirt down to expose her "girls." He takes a moment to admire them with a cocked head. And then he tries to nurse.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Woman of Light

Woman of Light
for Lucille Clifton

Lucille, whose name means light
and whose dark eyes are light as well,
Lucille, I am the woman in the second row,

white, with skinny hips and a colorless blouse,
more contrained by my pale narrowness
than ever you in your dark strong breadth,

loving the turquoise, the bright,
the long and the curve of it, your words
in my hands, your voice in my ears;

Tell me again, Lucille, about the poems
you lost and the babies you saved.
Tell me you couldn't replace

the children, tell me you could
replace the poems; please tell me that lie
one more time because I, too, have

poems and children and some days they play side
by side, tossing sound back and forth
while I listen; some days they fight

to the death. You say your children
won, but we both know, and so you must say it,
that lost poems are poems lost forever; like

lightning, words don't strike the same place
again. Tell me that truth, strong woman of light;
please, tell me that hard truth.

~ Laura Apol

Monday, February 9, 2009

chicken-scratched half-poems

I have beloved scraps—grocery store receipts, post-it notes, junk mail, irrelevant business cards—that are home to chicken-scratched half-poems written with dying pens at stoplights, in checkout lines, in the kitchen while stirring barley into the soup. Later, I find them sandwiched between diapers and sticky, half-eaten granola bars in the bottom of my purse; I find them in pockets; I find them tucked into cookbooks like pressed flowers. I read them and, like stumbling upon a faded photograph of a long-ago lover, my breath catches; I can almost touch it, that lost beauty. But more immediate miracles need tending: the baby cries to be nursed, the toddler needs his boo boo kissed, dinner must come out of the oven. Then later, after the children have gone to bed, I'm putting leftovers in the fridge, muttering to myself, wondering if it is even possible to resurrect bygone almost-poems, and the season’s first strawberries, red and decadent, call out from the shelf, begging to be rinsed, admired, tasted.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

the real work

sometimes loving
means gently urging the
coiled snake between us to
move aside.
even so,
her rattle warns she is watching,
ready to strike.
we must dance
as if under water,
as if to a sleeping baby.