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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

Cracker Jack

Carrying E home in my arms, on a wet rainy night I stopped and rested against a ledge. Her face hid in my coat. I watched raindrops splattering on my shoes, in puddles on the cobblestones. I thought about a dream I had a lot when I was her age.

I am in a small boat in the center of a clean white lake. Objects that looked a bit like Cracker Jacks are popping up all around me in the milky water. Its surface is covered with the carmel corn, and then they all turn black.

The dream would repeat itself, and I would sit perfectly still, watching from the little boat. I did not cry out, as they was no one there to hear me. I did not struggle as I knew the burnt candies would always smother me.

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