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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…

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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