I always wonder if the nattering got to my mother.
Perhaps I wasn’t as persistant…or loud, or whiny however I doubt that. Alone, singular and by default quieter. But there were days when her eyes rolled back until she could see her own ass and she thought “dear lord, if this child does not remove herself from my sight I will send.her.back with postage and chips.”
She thought that, right? This woman who wanted me, desperately, or if not desperate, at least enough to wait 7 years for the phone call to come, for the news that another babe in wool, a girl was ready for her barrenness to rear.
I’ve always found it unfair that I of all people were given two daughters like a summer sunrise, while so many good people go without children, cast into a life of second best, of want and need so heavy it lingers in the air between them like dice thrown at craps. What have I done to deserve such beauty, such wonder? Was it a gift of surrender, the universe shrugging and saying “well bitch, maybe this time it’s ok?” Was it a lesson, wrapped in sadness and joy and absolute chaos that life is what links us, that new starts are what bring smiles to the faces of old men, broken long before we could think to salve it.
I do not deserve the security of continuance, do not possess the ego necessary to thrust my genes into the wilds. And yet here I sit, daughters of my womb snoring gently (or not so gently) in the room beneath this ragged wood floor. I, their mother, shaking her head in stark confusion.
To an action a reaction. A spark burns the forest to our heels. Love begets love which leads to hate and boredom. I meet a boy when I’m 15 and fall in lust/love and years later I bloom like a tulip, twice, and bring forth awe. Gravity. Centripetal force, unending, their center in my center, heart of their heart, the beating drum heard on a table and then, in a tiny chest fluttering like a bird in giant hands.
And then to natter, incessant, to tell me the laws of birds and men, the vague ties of rain and mettle. It would be horrible if I lost my voice she crowed.
Horrible, not my exact adjective. But a fluttering heartbeat in my teeth, a moment lost beneath the daily trudge, a reward. A pause. A denial, life thrown into the darkness, hostile baring teeth.
Impelled toward a center, circling.
Mid afternoon this time of year, the light turns hollow and brittle, a clear yellow which breathes melancholy and memory. It falls through the yellow and blood-red leaves, dapples my eyes with her face, my mother at the kitchen sink, clearheaded in the late day sunlight.
I am at her feet, humming a toy car along the carpet lines, and feel her gaze upon my head like a benediction every few minutes. Around and above me the adult world, the secret monotonies in the cupboards, the sharps and dips she stood before, brave.
She glows in the light, then, and now, time a shutter, and I the center.
She smiles, I grin.
Not the center. The starting point after all.