You stand waiting at the threshold to our house.The backyard is your kingdom but this is ours. Click-clack-click-clack treading lithely up the stairs, into the bedroom where you drop beside our bed and watch quietly as we wind our bodies down for rest.The rhythm soothes your restive heart.The house enfolds you in a warm embrace.Your eyes fall shut and your breathing subsides to a deep and steady snore, your delicate rib cage rising and falling, feet twitching as you dream…of what? Chasing bunnies? Fleeing the bad men who broke you? Or playing in your kingdom with us, your family?
How many stumbles and brawls did we endure and inflict on ourselves and each other? Red knees, bruised shoulders, bloody noses. The carpet bore evidence of our fits, becoming a likeness of some kind of earth. Patches of brown, blotches of red, swaths of thread bareness. Sunlight imparting grace on our restless forms, transforming our mottled canvas into hieroglyph.
There were nights when the sky was like a rainbow enveloping us. We ran and screamed like savages, our hearts thumping in our chests, breath becoming mist as the air cooled around us. And still we played on, until the sky finally darkened and our tired legs carried us reluctantly home to baths and warm beds and the familiar glow of a nightlight.
You moved through the house with the silence granted by grace, delicately, softly. It was the objects that tittered and clinked, your hand orchestrating the things within our home. The sound of water running, dishes clanking, drawers opening and closing. Amongst the din and dust, it was the incandescent light within you that illuminated our world. A song gently rising all around us, your voice like clearness of daylight, dripping like sweet honey from the air.
The bed where mom and dad sleep. And where one summer during a torpid heatwave we all slept in the same bed, bodies strewn about half naked in fitful slumber as the air conditioner thrummed like a beast. Resting heads, dangling feet, respiring torsos. As if a spell had been cast — our bodies having morphed into one. Could it have been that we were dreaming the same dream?
A little girl sits by the window in the basement, brooding over some perceived slight. All around her are the plants her mother nurtures, a miniature jungle of soil and roots and burrowing insects. Life teems within that suburban home. But she is oblivious to all but her pain and fury. Years later, when an aquarium tank sits beside the jungle, a goldfish will fling itself out of the water and on to the ground, a flare of gold in a swath of green.
Rust and Setting Sun
In the old shed, all rusty things resided. Shovels and picks and tools we didn’t know how to use. We sat on rust stained chairs as we exchanged secrets and made solemn vows to one another. Rays of sun seeped in through the cracks and holes, illuminating the dark space in a strange half light. Daylight was waning but we were too innocent to perceive it as anything but the familiar embrace of darkness.
We live like the ancients, by the sun and the stars. It is only that we have adopted the gestures of the fool, amassing closetfuls of clothes and more furniture than we have time to use. All this, time will take away. It is the writing on the walls that I heed, shadow and light, reminders of the beauty of each day, the urgency of time, the primalness of the light and the dark.
We built fortresses with stones, threw pebbles down the driveway, amassed a rock collection in the garage. They were our playthings until one flew over our backyard fence and gashed open your little head. Blood dripped on to your yellow sweater vest. Tears, panic, anger, red hot chase as they vanished beyond our vengeance. Wounds are healed with stitches but anger stays within you for years, a lifetime. I grew arms that day that enfolded you a lifetime. Stretching, contorting, multiplying like a vengeful demon that strangles all in its path and inevitably weaves its own noose.