I saw your face and thought of a name, but was it yours, I wondered, and couldn’t say for sure. Was it at work, in the clinic, in front of the vet, or down the road at the gas-station, the gym, or…? I know, I remember now…it was when you were getting out of your car that day with your little ones in the grocery store parking lot and I hesitated before pulling into the spot next to you because your kids were standing there with big eyes looking at the car, my car, that was coming at them. I just sat there in my patience and waited for you to grab their hands or usher them in some other way out of “my” spot. You looked up and glared at me and angrily waved at me to drive on in. I still waited, as I do, for you to get the little ones’ hands, to offer them your security, that sense of “Daddy’s got you, so it’s OK” before I continued in with my car. You were swearing at me when I finally parked and you were walking away, little ones in tow. As my car alarm beeped in my leaving, your words of “What the fuck are you looking at?!” bounced into my ears and around in my head and I couldn’t imagine “what the fuck” you were talking about. I shouted “Hey!” and you yelled “What, bitch?!” and I said “I was waiting for your little ones to move.” You suggested that I stop being such a fucking idiot and just park my goddamned car as your little ones’ eyes went from you to me as they were being tugged bodily up through the asphalted parking lot and into the store where the air-curtain above the door whooshed and splayed at their hair and yours and mine as I followed, not following, per se, just going in the same direction.
And it’s you I see again one day, inside of another store, with you waiting in line for the lady to ring-up your stuff and me walking past to go into another aisle. Your kids aren’t with you and we, consequently, have nothing to talk about, but you see me and I see you and I remember very clearly where I know you from. I see you looking after me as I turn into the aisle and my face is calm and your brow is furrowed. “Where do I know you from?” you’re wondering, maybe, as you were wondering, still, when I left the opening to the aisle and was gone again.
Today, literally, these years later, I still see your little ones’ eyes. Their tiny, large brown eyes looking at me through long and curly lashes and framed with clean black hair. I see them looking at me behind the windshield and then walking through the parking lot, seemingly at and after them and I wonder at their wondering. I see them looking up at you and your full brown angry face and silver black hair, first one and then the other, and then back at me. I see their little arms tugged in their tiny t-shirts as you hauled them out of the parking spot and across the lot and into the store.
I see them still….
This is a Favorite Re-post from October 2010.
Not so many years ago, the evening television was on and I sat with our little one, noticing the characteristics of his face and body and was struck by the differences between our hands, his and mine. The size and shape and color and texture and complexion and strength and the lives that each represented were alarming in their dissimilarities.
His tender innocence was spoken of in the smooth, plump whiteness and delicacy of grasp. Those little fingers have never known an agony or pain, either physical or emotional. Oh, I suppose there have been times when he has awoken in the night when Mommy or I have been away and he might have known fear or alarm at being alone in his little world. But, the unscarred and unblemished hands attest to an ignorance of heartache and trauma. They have caused no pain or misery of whatever scale. They have only touched in love and exploration and learning, in discovering their world. The slobbery, chubby fingers have only reached out to Mommy’s or Daddy’s face or hands and arms, or brothers’ or sisters’ and known love and wonder. They have not been stabbed with the thorns of life and involvement; have not known betrayal or deceit in shadowed seclusion. His baby’s hands are pure. And mine are not. What defilement they cannot imagine and renderings unknown have yet to be. No scorn has caused them to sweep aside the glances of hurt loved-ones’ eyes, no condescension revealed in a thumping knock or troubling grasp.
Darkened and swollen with work, scarred and abused, only knowing tenderness with their increasing age, appreciation, and maybe even a little wisdom; knowing regret and forgiveness, my hands seek his face and cradle it with love. His eyes fix to mine for a moment as my creased and thickened hands frame his innocent countenance, gently pressing his baby cheeks to envelop their softness.