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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

when you smile (I am a boat)

She stares at me for minutes on end without blinking. Some days her eyes are more gray, sometimes more blue. I watch the curl of her lips, the same as her mother's. The smile warms, inching across her face. I make noises, wiggle my face around into a thousand expressions. Her toe extends, as if it expresses all of the thoughts in her little head. The page turns and her face goes in on itself. I wonder if she has gas, or is about to cry. I see the lips trembling, the painful sounds brewing behind them. I find myself singing to her.

          when you smile
          I smile
          when you cry 
          I cry
          but when you laugh
          I laugh

The next page turns. The same eyes staring, looking straight through me. 
And then she does smile. A laugh bubbles over. 

Her hands are waving around. I have an idea this means she wants to be carried, to wander from room to room touching the same objects. First the little bell hanging next to the window in the kitchen. Then, the magnets on the fridge. Then the hallway mirror, where I see her reflection and try to gauge what she is interested in next. Then the balcony, staring out at the leaves bending hard in the wind. 

She slumps against me. I smell the hair on the top of her head and close my eyes, rocking from one foot to the other. Her tiny hands dance in circles in the air, pulling at the hairs on my arm, resting on them like I am a railing on a boat. 




Comments

liv said…
oh...what a face - a starlet in the making.
They talk so much with their eyes at this stage - they know so much.

Love the new header.

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