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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

God moves on the water

Waiting for the other shoe to drop feels like a mantra for living here. There is no question if it will happen, only when the situation will become complete, realized, official. There has been snow, freezing wind coming up from the river and then the cool wet sidewalk returns. We are waiting for the ground to grow hard, the grey sooty piles of snow to hedge in on cars and sidewalks, giant sleeping hulks that go nowhere. The other shoe is not dropping, slapping into quicksand instead, dropping loose into a vacuum where the floorboards should be. 

It is maddening. 

The shopping center opposite that makeshift memorial caught on fire early one morning. It was not the first time I saw a sign somehow engulfed in flames here. The streets were full of camera crews, and a stream of water churned from the parking garage entrance. I had eggs and milk and coffee slung across my shoulder, and could not see if there was a way to pass everyone. I stood right on the spot where the blood and roses caught my attention. It felt like a nexus, a tight spiral of coincidence but without any meaning I could unravel. 

I smelled burning plastic, as clouds choked the dark morning sky. 

A whole turkey was found at rinok, the same as last year. I carried it proudly, heavy as a bag of cinder blocks. The holiday means nothing here, just a random thursday to most. I took E home from school as soon as classes ended. We cracked eggs and tore bread into tiny pieces for the stuffing. She tried to peel some carrots but it was still too hard for her tiny hands. She tasted the cranberry sauce that had been bubbling on the stove for some hours and pronounced it was just sour enough. I steamed pumpkin with fresh grated ginger, stirring and softening and reducing it to a baby-food mush before it became part of the pie. 
"I am making a thankful toast this year." She announced at one point. 
I kissed the top of her head. 

N came home with red cheeks, stalking into the kitchen to nibble the corners of whatever was cooked already, her face a series of approvals. She set the table, put out the good candlesticks, washed the pots and pans I was done with. 
"Put some music on." E said in a big voice.
I put on Charlie Parr for some reason, his version of God Moves on the Water
"This is about the Titanic." I tell E. 
"I know Pop." She says, rolling her eyes. "You already told me."

          A.G. Smith, mighty man
          built a boat that he couldn't understand
          Named it a name of God in a tin, without a "c"
          Lord, he pulled it in
          God moves 
          God moves
          and the people had to run and pray


liv said…
Gosh, it seems like it was just winter there a couple of months ago. In a sense - it must always feel like winter there.

Turkey, cranberries, music and loved ones - sounds good. Be warm, all.

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