Archive for July, 2008


Mya is one year old. She isn’t walking yet, mostly because she has two older brothers who dote on her and bring her everything she desires; and really, who needs to walk under those circumstances? She has teeny tiny feet, chubby arms and legs, short, curly, brown hair, and hazel-green eyes. Much of the time, she entertains herself by roly-polying around on the floor, but occasionally she invents games that require other participants.

Once, for example, she surreptitiously peeled a bracelet from her mother’s wrist while she was distracted by adult conversation, and dropped it onto the floor. She leaned forward while doing the splits, picked the bracelet up with her mouth, put it on her own ankle, admired her handiwork, took it off, threw it back on the ground, and did it all over and over again - and all with no hands - for at least half an hour: bracelet, floor, splits, mouth, ankle, admire, repeat. Before long, all of the adults had forsaken their conversation in favor of Mya’s compelling gymnastics.

Another time, I was charged with feeding her a roll and, concerned that she not choke on too big of a bite, I pinched off little crumbs for her one at a time. But she ate them so voraciously and with such take-charge command, that I was slightly taken aback. If I didn’t pinch crumbs fast enough she’d get her whole mouth around the roll – as well as my hand, which was clutching the roll – before I knew what had happened. Throughout this exchange I could only see the top of her head - but at one point, just as I was starting to feel some concern that she might eat my fingers, I saw a flash of a wicked wee grin; that was when I realized we were playing a variation on tag, and I was loo-ooo-osing.

But this was my favorite game – I was sitting by the fireplace paying attention to the grownups, and Mya was sitting on the floor about three feet away. She made a sound, just a discreet baby exhortation, so I glanced at her and found she was staring right at me. She immediately stuck her arms out, like little pistons, in the universal baby-sign for “Pick. Me. Up. Now.” So of course I did. No sooner had she settled onto my hip, than she pitched her small body out at an alarming angle. I headed for the couch instinctively, knowing that if I sat down I’d correct the sudden sense of being off-kilter. Just as she’d planned, apparently. Because as soon as I settled onto the couch she started hurtling her tiny torso backwards into open space; then she stared at me pointedly, through slightly narrowed eyes, until I figured it out… Oh, I was supposed to tickle her! So I did, and she screamed and wiggled and laughed. Then she stopped and stared at me again. I lifted her back up, and she immediately pitched backwards so she was dangling upside down again… but this time she refused to oblige with a scream and a giggle until I figured out that the LEFT ribs like to be tickled, not the right ribs… and we continued.

I am completely beguiled by Mya – and by her total, wordless, command of her world. No wonder her brothers bring her everything!

Add comment July 31st, 2008

Driftwords - Groundswell

I run uphill, my long skirts catching under my feet and between my legs. The dense grass comes to my ankles – just high enough that each stride requires sinking a foot into the unknown. I try not to wonder what might be hidden by the smooth swells of grass: stones, small but fickle in their placement, or more sinister, lingering evidence of the battles that have raged in this place. The incline is gentle, but persistent; I feel my breath tighten my lungs as I race towards the edge of the cliff. It’s far off yet, but I feel it in the pull of the blue sky as it settles, a little too sharply, along the horizon. The animals arrive silently. Some species I know; some I’ve only heard of in stories. All are all motionless – carved from stone – and half-buried in the earth. They’re frozen in mid-stride, in mid-stampede, running the opposite direction. Downhill, away from the cliff, back towards where I’ve come from. The first animals I encounter are buried the deepest – I can barely see the tops of heads protruding from the grass, or the strangeness of a softly curved ear rendered in stone. As I move on, they’re less entrenched. Necks, then trunks, then bodies are exposed. Legs, feet, paws and hooves; and then I’m running through them and they’re all around me; dogs at my knees, zebras at my shoulders, elephants blocking the sun. I’m the only one going this way. I’m the only one that still has flesh that warms and blood that circulates. The hill undulates like a wave far out to sea; gentle curves belying monstrous strength. I wonder if this land used to be a sea; if one great wave transformed them all from creatures to rocks, then transformed itself from water to earth. The animals seem to zip past, but I see flies landing on their wide, stone eyes.

Add comment July 30th, 2008