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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…

albino fruit

N is still in bed. E is at her mother's today. This is the best time to write, when the rooms are empty and still. We cleaned all day Saturday. I emptied three boxes of old toys, finding bits of food and god knows what as I reached their bottoms. Tiny doll clothes here, art supplies here, E's little guitar here, legos in these two boxes. We were Spring cleaning even if fresh snow was falling. The windows open, the air almost salty we pressed through the piles until there were none. N in my old CBGBs tshirt, sweeping bits of plastilene up with a furious expression - her cleaning face, I call it.

And now, a house with clean floors, with order. A house tamed into warmth and open spaces that do not hurt to walk across in the middle of the night.

The hyacinth lost its flowers. I saved a handful of shriveled blossoms for some reason in an envelope.

This is the cleansing breath. Spring begins today, but I do not feel it - I know it can't snow much longer.  These are the days just before E's birthday, when I realize we have made it another year together. When I drink in the changes late at night in the kitchen with just the stove light on, staring into a tiny glass of red wine. 

I bought a pair of Italian juice glasses in New York two summers ago, when I was still living in that apartment. I kept them wrapped in brown paper, tucked in the back of a cabinet. They were a blind wish, a promise to myself and E. I planned to unwrap them the first night I got out of there, and pour some juice for E in the other one. We would make a toast. It seemed impossible. I had thirty dollars in my pocket, my bank accounts emptied by E's mother. I did not think of those two glasses all of the time. I got caught up in the struggle to put a pile of money together. And then, looking for a pen, or some book I needed, my fingers would rest on that brown paper for a moment. 

My fingertips would relax and stop grasping in the darkness. 

We did drink juice from them a few months later. We still do. E holds on to their significance. N loves to turn them in her hands, the art deco flowers curling around in black and pink and green. 

No surprise that I bought two more glasses the last time I was in New York and presented them to N. A laugh jumped out of her mouth when she opened them. We used them right away. 

She is breathing perfectly, one foot extending from beneath the covers. 

Last night there was a giant moon in the night sky, hanging over the river like an albino fruit, rare and luminous.


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