Posts tagged “parenthood

When did the clock find the wind…again?

When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?

And how could we not see its fleeing?

There were baby hugs

And finger paints

Mid-day naps

And lollipops

Sand in her tennies

And potted beans on the windowsill

Pound-puppies and princess’s ponies

And bubble gum and pig-tails

Now she wants to drive

And her iPod is in her backpack

With her cell phone at her ear

Long curly hair ironed flat in the mirror

And she’s ready for the prom

When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?

When we were young, we noticed that it took forever for special days to get here; whether they were birthdays, Christmases, the last days of school, etc…they took an eternity, as marked by our child’s minds that registered time’s passing by those ultra-special days coming and going.

Now that the years have gathered, so many more things mark time…payday Fridays, her birthday, your birthday, her mom’s birthday, vacation, the first day of school, early-release every third Thursday, progress reports, report cards, the annual re-bid at work, a trainee for five weeks, the boss is gone for two, the weekend stand-by form on every Thursday, monitor each employee every month, we just checked your messages, it’s Thanksgiving and now it’s New Years and another move or not, and Christmas or winter break is passed and past, and one more semester until it’s done, and this process takes four weeks and that one takes seven, and the puppy needs his next set of shots and three more months until that movie comes out, another week to read the book, pay this bill on the 15th and that one on the first, and pay it again on the 15th, and the other one again on the first, and next month there are three paychecks for you and for me, so we look forward to yours and to mine and we pay extra on this one and it’s time to trim the bushes again, and the bug-guy is here again, and it’s time to change your oil and rotate the tires again, and it’s her birthday again then mine and her mom’s and my mom’s and school’s out again for the year and then she’s 21 weeks along and they can do the ultra-sound and see if it’s a boy or a girl, and which type of paint and trim do we get and we’ll know pretty soon…it does seem to rush by, unbidden, just passing with speed beyond belief, sometimes like tempests and torn in the way, and images of youth and what used to be has gone in the swirling of leaves and thought and remembrance, our encumbered spirits and minds loose (not lose) those things of yesterday and try to gather them back again before they are ungraspable in their passing, gone in that spirit of has-been and collected somewhere up in the ether where lost thoughts and radio waves linger unhitched for evermore.

We used to think that our grandparents and parents were old or getting that way and now we find ourselves noticing the little lines by our eyes…and the ones that run down into our cheeks or spread like the sun’s rays from the corners of our mouths…we find that the singular gray hairs have multiplied into a profusion that creeps into our vision until it’s time to dye them again…or not…and the moustache had a couple and the chin several more and it’s no longer possible to trim that one or pluck it away as before…they aren’t going away…our memories hold when our bodies won’t…and our children are getting older…the lines on the door frame that used to be fun to mark once or twice a year are slowly catching-up with our chin and eye-level reaches…and we wonder where it’s gone…we wonder how it not only learned to sprint and spring away but to indeed flee and leave us watching…making yet more notes of its passing…she was only 11 months-old when we saw her the first time and she just turned 13 years-old…another was captured in a picture at almost three years-old with her arm in a cast and now she’s 26 years-old…and the first-born is crowing at 28 years…and those in between with babies and lives and house-payments and then….

And my friend, Byron, whose gentle soul found the words that title this writing, noticed in awe the beauty and unbelievable 16 years of his daughter as he took her to school one day last week…it struck him how she’s not that little girl anymore who used to crawl into his lap with a favorite book or doll and sit there playing with his chin…time has fled with that little one and brought a beautiful young lady to take her place…unbeknownst to anyone watching…suddenly she is here…and we wonder again…where did the clock find the wind to sprint like this?

Thank you, Byron.

***This is a Favorite Re-post from December, 2009….it was brought to mind again after seeing my friend Byron for the first time in nearly four years…and he told me that his daughter is now married and recently graduated from college.

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“a little longer”…thoughts of a young father

“As I put her to sleep, holding the bottle to her small mouth, I listen to her breathe.  I feel her little movements as she struggles against the sleepiness that always wins in the end.  I hear her drinking from her bottle, first quickly as she is so excited to get her evening nourishment, but then slower and slower as the heavy weight of slumber pulls her little eyes closed in longer and longer blinks.

But tonight something different happens.  Tonight, as she drifts closer and closer to sleep, she reaches up with her hand, as she does often while drifting off.  But this time she rests her trusting hand on mine as I hold her bottle.  Not a brush, not a slip, not an accident.  Her hand rests on mine with purpose, with intent.  This is where she wants her hand, what she wants to hold.

Can’t this bottle be just a bit bigger?

Can’t there be more left in it for her to drink?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her hand on mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

Her bottle empties and I replace it with her binky.  Her hand moves as I shift her body, cradle her, and rock her the rest of the way to sleep.  With her bottle empty, she surrenders herself to the sandman.  Her eyes close, her breathing slows, her body stills.  Her hand is no longer on mine as it was.  Such a small gesture and yet she has no idea.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

portrait of a baby in black and white

***

                She wakes up and begins her day, chattering on about breakfast, about her Mommy, about her games and shows.  She is happy, as she is most days.  There are no owies or runny noses or naps.  She moves through her world freely and with more and more independence.  ‘I can brush my own teeth, I can put my plate in the sink, I can get dressed, I can, I can, I can.’  The day nears its end, as all days do, with bedtime stories and ni-nights and kisses and hugs.

But this day is different.  This is the last of this era.  This is the end of this stage.  Tomorrow she goes to school.  Tomorrow she meets new people, learns new things, begins new routines, needs help from someone else.  This bedtime I know all about her day, what she did, what she saw, what she said.  When she lies down to bed tomorrow her stories will be new.

Can’t this day be just a bit longer?

Can’t there be more words in this story?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her world in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

The story ends, she gives and gets her hugs and kisses.  She rolls over and lets me believe that she will be going right to sleep, but knowing she will be up imagining what tomorrow will be like.  Excited and anxious and scared.  Her days are no longer only mine as they were.  So precious these moments but she doesn’t know.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

to hide away

***

                Busy as always, so much less time to spend in the house these days for a young adult.  She learns more every day than I have in years.  The world is still opening up to her as she stretches her legs into the adult world, learns to live, to work, to be responsible.  I get to see where my efforts have paid off.  I get to see where she could have been guided better.  But that’s only when I get to see her.  New friends with new faces and new stories and experiences and places and people.  It seems that most of the time there is considerable effort to keep up and by the time I do, the whole story is new and different and I’m not caught up anymore.

But in this rare moment, something is different.  She sits beside me as the evening winds to a close to share her day.  She isn’t busy with friends or work or school, she is busy spending time with me.  She wants to be with me, she wants me to hear her, she wants to hear me.  I listen as she unfolds her busy day before me and allows me to participate, because today I am part of her busy day.

Can’t this conversation be just a bit longer?

Can’t I say more to keep her from going to bed?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her story in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

She begins to yawn, her eyes grow redder as her body tells her it’s time for sleep.  I tell her goodnight and watch as she leaves to her room.  She carries on to bed thinking nothing different of the day.  Another day closer to where she’s going.  Another day further from where she started.  Something as simple as time spent with someone, but she doesn’t get it.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                She walks to the door as she prepares to leave.  She is always going places, new places, old places.  Places I’ve been to, places I haven’t.  Some places maybe she’ll take me to, places maybe that I really want to see.  We gather around the door, talking about when she’s coming back, who she’s going to be with, what she’s going to be doing.

But this time it’s different.  She’s not coming back, unless it’s to visit.  She’s going to be with people I don’t know, people I won’t know.  She’s going to be doing things that I won’t have any involvement in, or even know about in some cases.  Today she’s going to her house.  That used to mean the same thing as when I was going to my house, but not now, not this time.  She is going to her own house.  She is leaving my house and going home.

Can’t we stand here at the door just a bit more?

Can’t I find something else to load into your car?

Can’t she stay a little longer with her home in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

She walks out the door and gets in her car.  I get one last wave and she blows me a kiss as she drives to her new house, her new home.  I watch as the car winds down the street into the distance.  Even after the car is long out of site, I continue to watch down the street as if I can watch her make it home safely, as if I can see right to her door from mine as I always have.  She grew up here with me, I watched her grow, but it’s not something she is able to appreciate yet.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brought to my heart.

***

                I walk with her as I have so many evenings, arm in arm.  There is a cool breeze that blows through the trees and causes our hair to stir.  We always just walk, nowhere in particular.  To the end of the street, up the road, around the block.  It never really matters, we always know where we are going back to.  It is wonderful when she comes to visit and spend time, talks about her life, her job, her friends.  Sometimes we can walk together without saying a word at all.

But it is again different this time.  This time we walk with a destination.  It is not a far walk, but it is the furthest walk I have ever taken.  My destination is near the end of the aisle, at which point I take my seat and let her walk the rest of the aisle to another arm to place hers in.  It is not as if I won’t have another walk with her, arm in arm.  Our next walks will be different, about a new chapter.

Can’t the aisle be just a bit longer?

Can’t we slow the pace of the walk?

Can’t she stay a little longer with her arm in mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.

I give her away, just as she asked me to.  Tears in my eyes, I smile at her.  I sit down and watch her speak words of love to her best friend.  She stands there looking as beautiful as the day she was first mine.  We still take walks, arm in arm, and still talk about life.  We even talk about the very walk that began her newest chapter and my role in that walk, but I can’t expect her to understand what it means to me.  She knows not what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                Visits at her house are always wonderful, visits with her at any place are wonderful.  She has grown into an amazing woman.  I get to see her world as she decorated it around her.  There aren’t words for my pride when she introduces me to her friends.  To be important enough that someone she knows will, should, gets to meet me.  To be this far down the road and still hold the honor of being an important figure in her life feels like a rarity.

But this visit will be different.  I am not meeting her friend or neighbor or coworker.  I am meeting her daughter.  I am holding her daughter.  I am rocking her daughter.  She watches me as I stare into her face through another.  The flood of memories, of emotions, of beauty overwhelms me.

Couldn’t she have been this small a bit longer?

Couldn’t I go back to do this all again?

Couldn’t she stay a little longer as my baby?

That’s all I want, just let those moments last a little longer.

She takes her baby daughter from me and I get the joy of watching her stare into the eyes of her precious daughter as I once did.  The most beautiful transformation takes place right before me as I look at her and realize that now, after all this time, she understands, and will forever.  She knows what this means to her Daddy, what joy it brings to my heart.

***

                As I see her approach me, I reflect on all the times I have truly watched her as she experienced life.  As she lives life.  I watched as she placed her small hand on mine in a trusting hold, as she moved from my world into hers, as she kept me in her story, as she stepped out of my home and into one of her own, as she held her arm in mine for the longest walk, as she transitioned from a woman into a Mommy.  She sits beside me and smiles at me as I always loved her to do.

But this time is, different.  I am watching her approach me for the last time.  I am watching her for the last time.  As she sits in the chair beside my bed, she places her hand on mine.  As I drift off, I feel her hand as she softly weeps.  Her hand is on mine with purpose, with intent.  This is where she wants her hand.  What she wants to hold.

Can’t this life be just a bit longer?

Can’t I have her by my side tomorrow?

Can’t I have tomorrow?

Can’t she stay here a little longer with her hand on mine?

That’s all I want, just let this moment last a little longer.”

© 2013 – Caleb Michael Brill


Did you just call me a slob…again?

We were sitting on the couch, my little one and I, with his mom on the love-seat across from us, watching a movie.  We had a bowl of popcorn between us, and as my little one reclined into one of the pillows, he took handfuls of the popcorn and not so delicately or accurately plied the fluffy stuff into his mouth.  When the majority of the bowl was gone, he started playing with the pieces of popcorn, alternately flicking them into his mouth or smashing them in his palm and then licking-up the pieces like a dog.  We paused the movie occasionally to ask or answer a question, to run to the bathroom, get a refill of one of our drinks or the other…and then continued watching and eating and enjoying the movie and each other’s company.  The further into the bowl we got, the more broken pieces of popcorn there were on the little one’s blanket, pillow, pajamas, and surrounding couch area.

I reached over to pick-up some of the crumbs and broken pieces to put them back in the bowl…and made a mistake….

“Do you think you’re making a big enough mess, you little slob?”

Quiet.

Did you just…call me a slob?

My little one asked this with a quivering chin and downcast eyes as he picked a piece of popcorn off of the blanket beneath his chin and placed it anxiously into his mouth.

“Well yeah, look at the mess…hey….”

There were big alligator tears and an immediately running nose and the sobbing of words and half words that I couldn’t understand between his crying and the movie and his mom and my questioning and….

“Hey there…I was just playing….”

Why…did you…call…me that?  What was…why are you….

And more tears…and my heart was breaking at his breaking heart and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and oh….

“Hey, Buddy, look at me,” as I patted his foot, “I was only playing…you’re making such a mess here…hey…look…I was only playing.”  I reached over and dragged him to me….  “Hey…I call your mom a slob too, sometimes…when she makes a mess…I wasn’t trying to be mean….”

And his chest was shaking and he was wiping tears across his face and his mom brought over a Kleenex to blow his nose…and I was holding back a smile in my amazement and tears in my sadness at how I had just crushed his little heart…his daddy calling him a slob.

“Hey there…why are you crying?  I was only playing….”

I…don’t like…being…called names.

“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry, Buddy.  I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings or upset you…I was just playing with you.”

I accept your…apology.  Sniff….

An important aspect of my little one’s life and existence, at this point in his eight years (now eleven), and possibly for many more years as he learns to decipher and remember the various meanings of our vast array of socially constructed and freighted expressions and intentions and nuanced meanings, is his acceptance of things as they are presented to him.  He doesn’t see the gray or shading in many of our words and intentions.  The idiosyncrasies of our speech and the subtle and not-so-subtle meanings of our paired words sometimes escape him, even when we’re joking around…they mean, to him, what they literally mean.  In my playing, I forgot about the concreteness of his brilliant little mind…and the tenderness of his easily broken heart.

Oh…how it hurts sometimes….

*****

This is a Favorite Re-post from April, 2010.


I saw Superman, again….

I saw Superman walk down my hallway today and he didn’t and doesn’t care what you think about him.  He was a white-boy with dread-locked hair that’s long enough to tuck behind his ears and he smelled like the stink and rot of unwashed bodies in tight and closed places.  I’ve smelled his kith and kin in hovels bare and small.  I’ve sat and listened to their stories of life and things passed-by and wondered at their truth and then found that it didn’t matter, those things and they, well…they became true in the telling.  And today, as he shuffled past me in his coke-bottle glasses with scratches and old and yellowed tint from age and sun and wear, the arms hooked over ears with huge and fearsome gauges stuck in the lobes causing holes that would be large as a ring on my thumb, he shuffled past in that mess and whatnot with torn jeans and ravaged converses as he huddled his face into the small baby of two months or less and whispered his whiskered and loving words into his tiny self.  He whispered kind nothings and stink and I didn’t smell his breath, but neither did the baby as he lay there cuddled and warm against that chest in the torn and fake-leather jacket and was loved by him in all that it meant to him.  That baby there was cherished in those moments where he existed in my life and Superman had him and rocked his world…and I hope he remembers that love when life comes on him hard and rough as it sometimes will…I hope he remembers that his Daddy loved him, then.

***This is a Favorite Re-post from October, 2010.


faces on the wall….

The man sat in the dark and thought of the pictures on the wall and the eyes that looked out from their frozen images of faces and whatnot in the chemicals that held them in such places from their making until they left in some manner or other, moved to another wall, moved to another house, passed among the things that leave when he would leave on that unknown date and then.  The eyes that could bore through their selved-images into the eyes of the man who sat in the chair with heavy lids and pondered those things as night wound into itself and him and the sounds of day’s passing had become the creaking and yawning of the presence of its neighbor and twin, the one who exists on the other side of the thoughts of himself.

Picture frames glowing or reflecting the light that sneaks in through the windows from the posted light in the yard, that one thing that illuminates the darkened corners where what was present in the day has crawled into itself and themselves and exist only in shadow form or memory, but not sight, as they are hidden in the black and gray of their shadowed selves.  Those eyes accuse and remember in their fixed gazes and the man stares at the blank middles of the frames at what he knows is there but cannot see for the passed and past day and the dark inside the four edges covers but doesn’t hide the faces he knows.  Night doesn’t cover his heart and his wandering soul and it doesn’t relieve the ghosts that walk in his mind and in the fibers of the carpet and lay like a film inside the paint and wooded textures of stair railings and benches, those things that capture sounds and emotions as they are fleeing in their shouted births and deaths of echoes and remain.

Hollowed eyes and grins and thoughts and cheekbones and lips that lie in a stuck rictus, like painted and dead clowns and he doesn’t know who is inside, who is behind those portals of life and then, and he turns away and closes his eyes and hears the ringing in his ears as the cat talks not walks down the hall and a hidden beam somewhere in the wall creaks or sighs as the house wonders at the man in the chair in the dark, wonders at his thoughts and sitting there while others sleep and dream and think of nothing in the passing of the stars and moon in their circuits as the heater kicks on and whines through the vents and blows in its blowing and warmth of breath and stops with a shudder and how, as the man’s foot twitches as sleep tries to pull him deeper into the chair as his heart beats and beats and his eyes open at the cat’s passing and scratching on and of the one corner of the rug that has its frayed spot and spot as the eyes on the walls sleep in their openness and hide their thoughts in front of him as he looks away and remembers a younger self that fled a smile in furrowed brows and pursed lips of anger and rot, his eyes scorned and shaken and cast away and aside and down and away from any who would look.

He remembered the thick hand that smacked his mouth when his eyes were closed and thought the Divine was blind as the prayer was stuck in the swirl of ceiling paint as the black eyes bored into the smaller one’s eyes as his mouth throbbed and his heart ached and his mom sat at arm’s length away as her man’s hand smacked her child’s mouth and she kept her eyes closed as the sound echoed in her ears and she squeezed her eyes closed as she smelled the dinner cooling on the table in front of them and wondered how the paint could keep the prayer inside the ceiling as it rolled about and thinned against the summer air and finally withered and faded and was gone in the tears that rolled down his cheeks as hate breathes by itself in blank picture frames and white rocks cast along the way, tripping the travelers who dare not watch where they are walking, who are blind to the path and stumble in the dark footsteps that lumber ahead of them.

This is a Favorite Re-post from February, 2010.


Don’t Make Me Come Looking for You

I found this in the file-cabinet the other day…from April, 1997….

We accuse our children, when they are little, of having over-active imaginations when they tell us that there really are bad creatures hiding beneath their beds or clinging to the insides of the curtains when we are finally able to turn-out their bedroom lights in the evening, but how much better are we, when suddenly, one of our kids isn’t where he is supposed to be at a given time?  How fast do our minds race when we are contemplating all of the horrible ends that they may have come to?  Unfortunately, we as parents have the unwelcomed luxury of knowing that our imaginations have every right to be over-active, given the headlines that our minds absorb every morning over that first cup of coffee.  Right, nothing will ever happen to our kid, he’s simply too smart to be taken by some stranger.  The world is too messed-up for our minds not to race.

He wasn’t in front of the library which could only mean that he was still at the school which was less than a block away.  I raced the engine of my little Toyota and headed-out of the drive-by loop of the library and bounced down the curb on my way back to the school.  Damn me if I sought relief, thinking surely he’s going to be there.  We had arranged to pick him up at 4pm and it was now 5:30 and he was nowhere to be seen.  What the hell was he thinking when he walked away, or was driven away from where he was supposed to be?  Seeing that the school was essentially deserted, I drove back to the library, impatiently slowing at the one stop-sign and giving a glance to the musicians playing in the parking lot of the coffee shop.  I sped through the drive-by loop in front of the building and grabbed a parking space.  Thankfully, there was one close so I didn’t have to walk further.  I was undecided as to whether I was angry or not.  I did know that my step carried fear as I hauled-ass into the library’s opening corridor.  I quickly glanced up toward the glass elevators and saw nobody that I knew.  The security guard just looked at me as I thought of asking him if he had recently seen a rather long-haired, blonde boy, skinny, carrying a green book-bag over his shoulder and a trombone case in the other hand.  Of course he just looked at me.  There is a performing arts school just around the corner and half of the kids who go there come here after school.  My developing rage didn’t allow me to be still enough to ask the man anything.  I feared that he wouldn’t know what a trombone case looked like anyway.  “What was he wearing today,” the policeman asked me in my imagination as I rode the elevator to the fifth floor.  “I don’t know,” I responded.  “I haven’t seen him yet today.”  He told me goodbye as I lay in bed on my day off.  The boy’s mom took him to school, but knowing him, he is probably wearing a pair of blue jeans that needs to be washed and a striped shirt.  The colors of the stripes don’t matter.  He is about this tall and has long hair – “to here,” I would point at my shoulder.

 The empty or busy faces coming my way hadn’t seen him either; you could just tell.  They were too busy talking to their friends to notice the fear that was forming on my brow.  None of the kids I saw were familiar.  You could tell that the lady at the information desk knew nothing that would be of help to me.  She looked like she was part of the desk, unmoving, unblinking in my glance.

We stopped at the second floor for the little black boy and the taller black woman with the business look to her dress and face to get off the elevator.  Just me and my thoughts now were being carried to the top floor.  They say it is the largest reading-room of any library in the country.  I thought of that, too, as I made my way down the left central aisle.  The largest one in the country hopefully holds my sleeping son in one of its study chairs.  It has in the past.  The fart was late coming outside for me to get him after school.  I had waited for 20 minutes past the pick-up time before I finally went up the same elevator to the same fifth floor and found him sleeping, head on his pillow arm, crashed and dead to the world.  Today he wasn’t there, though.  Goddammit!!  Where now?!  Will I find him torn to shreds, his blood splattered all over the bathroom floor if I go in there?  No, the doors were open and an unconcerned couple of boys came out as I walked past.  There was no blood spattering on their faces and their Nikes tracked-out no tell-tale footprints on the blue high-traffic carpet.

Up and down the aisles, north end, now south end.  The News Channel 12 helicopter still sat on its pad just south of the building, so I knew it wasn’t involved in spotting for our television audience the car that held my unconscious boy that was being chased by a veritable legion of police cars.  It was a legion.  A guy called the office the other day saying he had legions on his penis.  No, they were lesions.  The man in the line to check-out his books had a briefcase like mine.  Is he hiding my son in there?  Did he show him my briefcase and tell my son that he had to go with him because I needed his help?  How do I know where these thoughts are coming from?  They’re just there.  My son isn’t where he is supposed to be and I’m scared.  A week or so ago some freak started rubbing my son’s leg as he sat on a church wall grieving over a bird that one of our cats had mauled to death.  So, forgive me if I’m concerned.  I doubt that I really saw anybody as I searched the second floor of the library.  I remembered that one of the doors had been open at the school, so someone was probably still there that may have seen him.  I bounded down the two flights of stairs, feeling my fat stomach jiggle with each step.  I’ve got to lose weight and get in shape.  I thought the same thing a couple weeks ago as I was chasing the asshole that was hitting on my son.  I just couldn’t run fast enough and I was wondering if I was going to get there in time. 

The steps held and I made it outside, past the unknowing security guard and back into the Toyota.  I thought about what a mess I’d be in if the car wouldn’t start and I had to go looking for my lost son on foot.  I’d have to ask the cops for a ride home and then what would happen?  My face was glistening with sweat as I got to the car.  Unconsciously, I had chewed a hole in the side of my cheek as I was touring the fifth floor of the library.  Consciously now, hours later, it hurts.  Adrenaline and disregard for self allowed me to bang my head on the car-frame without too much pain as I hurried to get going over to the school.  Where is he?!  WHERE is he?!  Dammit!!  How many times have we told him to just stay where he’s supposed to be if I’m not there right on time?  How many times have we told him not to make us come looking for him?  The rule in our house: “Be here on time.  Be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there!  Every time!”  If you’re not there, then I know something is wrong.  Don’t worry about me, I’ll be there.  I will get you, every time – so just STAY there!

I smell onions on my fingers now as I twist the raw edges of my moustache.  While I was racing through the library, I smelled its characteristic smell.  I haven’t been able to identify what it is yet, but it’s the library.  I can smell it on my son all of the way home on some winter days.  When it has been too cold to open the car windows to have the scent blown out of his hair, I could smell it for the full 20 miles on the way home.

The young drama teacher just kept talking on the phone as I stepped up to the counter in the school office.  I stood there for five seconds waiting for him to realize that a parent shouldn’t be standing at the office counter more than an hour and a half after school was dismissed.  Pardon me if you’re on the phone!  Just tell me if you’ve seen my son!  He never asked, I never told.  Down the hall, the lady was cleaning the floors, of course she’s black; it should be a white woman.  Will it ever change?  Down the hall further, past the open door to the girls restroom with that one really tall full-figured girl standing in front of the mirror with her hands over her head holding her hair in a bun talking to some other girl, I imagine it’s a girl, as I pass.  Is there a pink light in there?  No, he’s not at the other end of the hall either.  He’s not on the parking-lot side of the church school building.  Just where is he?  Back down the hall, racing my reflection in the large windows to my left, searching for his sometimes childish self out in the courtyard, where he could be standing behind a tree.  He’s 14yo now and should realize that this isn’t the time to play.

The good Doctor Lady is in the office; no, she hasn’t seen him this afternoon, “During the day, yes, of course, but not since school got out.”  Well, my wife called from a pay phone, said she looked all over for him and he isn’t to be found, I told her.  I drove down there to find him and I can’t.  Have you seen him, where is he?!  Can I use your phone?  “Sure, just pick-up the line and dial out.”  Nathan, is Caleb home, did he call?  “Yes, Mom said she’s got him.  She told me to tell you to just come home.”  Just come home.  Drive 20 miles home, alone, calm down.  It’s ok.  He’s home.  It’s ok.  He’s ok, really, he’s fine.  That’s good.

So, here I am sitting in the tub with my clothes on, the philodendron plant is resting on my shoulder as I write this, bouncing with each new word that leaves the pen to find its eternal home on this yellow page.  The fan in the toilet-room needs to be replaced, as it’s making that rackety noise that the other one made before it died.  My fingers still smell like onions, somehow, and I can feel my left eye burning where I scratched it as I tried to rub out that allergy itch earlier.  My ears are ringing with their familiar cicada song and the chains hanging from the ceiling fan in the bedroom are swirling like they’re doing a belly dance…and my not-lost son is downstairs with his brothers and sister and mom.


As she lay sleeping

The Angel sleeps in the lighted room, peacefully unaware that the sun is as bright here as it was in the out-of-doors where she spent the afternoon playing.  Looking at her sleep, I am captured by the essence of a baby completely at rest.  The tiny curls at the back of her neck are slightly wet and somewhat darker than the rest of her not so long crowning glory.  Lying on her belly with the two middle fingers of her left hand motionless now, still from their suckling, she is oblivious to my presence and adoring eyes.  Her feet are bare, thanks to her own playfulness; you know she is proud that she removed the socks, smiling with her eyes almost closed to slits…she sleeps.  Tousled hair and tiny ears adorn her face and perfectly shaped head.  Her right arm is thrown forward and up where it rests on her favorite blanket; miniature lungs cause her little back to rise and fall with sustaining breath; sleep my Little One.  Rest safely for another day.  Sleep at your ease.  When she is gone, my chest will be empty where my heart now beats.  I never knew I could love like this.  I never cherished holding a tiny form as I do now when I hold her.  I was reborn too late.  My soul is miserable for not knowing how to love my own then, as I do her, now.  Those ticks of the clock have ceased even their echoing.  I hope they will forgive me.

The sun’s light has faded and gone with its setting more than two hours ago.  The star of stars ended its daily cycle behind our valley’s western mountains as it has done every evening now for what must be the past several million years.  Now, left in the twilight created by the nearly concealed bathroom light around the corner from where I sit, my eyes perceive this bedroom-world in hues of light and dark.  Only gray, black, and lighter gray can be divined by my night-adjusted eyes.  In focusing upon the slowly closing eyes of my little loved-one, they disappear with my concentration, but if I look to either side, I can see them clearly, rather, as clearly as the suffused light will allow.  My baby’s purple dinosaur pajamas are only a darker gray than the blackened, navy sweat-shorts that I am wearing.  ‘I love you’ is being sung in her fifteen-month-old’s dialect as she fights the valiant efforts of the Sandman.  Holding her on my lap, I can smell the fragrance of her baby-shampooed hair, just as she, maybe, can smell the scent of ground weeds and back-yard vegetation that lingers on my hands as I caress her ever soft cheeks and jaw line.  The contest is finished, and that enchanter of sleep, Mr. Sandman, is victor yet again.  His wooings are too much for the protestations of my little one.  She has succumbed to the calling of sleep, where, hopefully, she will rest the night through – so that my bride and I can do the same.  Good night, Fair One.  Sleep well and know that you are loved.


When Did The Clock Find The Wind?

When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?

And how could we not see its fleeing?

There were baby hugs

And finger paints

Mid-day naps

And lollipops

Sand in her tennies

And potted beans on the windowsill

Pound-puppies and princess’s ponies

And bubble gum and pig-tails

Now she wants to drive

And her iPod is in her backpack

With her cell phone at her ear

Long curly hair ironed flat in the mirror

And she’s ready for the prom

When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?

 

When we were young, we noticed that it took forever for special days to get here; whether they were birthdays, Christmases, the last days of school, etc…they took an eternity, as marked by our child’s minds that registered time’s passing by those ultra-special days coming and going.  Now that the years have gathered, so many more things mark time…payday Fridays, her birthday, your birthday, her mom’s birthday, vacation, the first day of school, early-release every third Thursday, progress reports, report cards, the annual re-bid at work, a trainee for five weeks, the boss is gone for two, the weekend stand-by form on every Thursday, monitor each employee every month, we just checked your messages, it’s Thanksgiving and now it’s New Years and another move or not, and Christmas or winter break is passed and past, and one more semester until it’s done, and this process takes four weeks and that one takes seven, and the puppy needs his next set of shots and three more months until that movie comes out, another week to read the book, pay this bill on the 15th and that one on the first, and pay it again on the 15th, and the other one again on the first, and next month there are three paychecks for you and for me, so we look forward to yours and to mine and we pay extra on this one and it’s time to trim the bushes again, and the bug-guy is here again, and it’s time to change your oil and rotate the tires again, and it’s her birthday again then mine and her mom’s and my mom’s and school’s out again for the year and then she’s 21 weeks along and they can do the ultra-sound and see if it’s a boy or a girl, and which type of paint and trim do we get and we’ll know pretty soon…it does seem to rush by, unbidden, just passing with speed beyond belief, sometimes like tempests and torn in the way, and images of youth and what used to be has gone in the swirling of leaves and thought and remembrance, our encumbered spirits and minds loose (not lose) those things of yesterday and try to gather them back again before they are ungraspable in their passing, gone in that spirit of has-been and collected somewhere up in the ether where lost thoughts and radio waves linger unhitched for evermore.  We used to think that our grandparents and parents were old or getting that way and now we find ourselves noticing the little lines by our eyes…and the ones that run down into our cheeks or spread like the sun’s rays from the corners of our mouths…we find that the singular gray hairs have multiplied into a profusion that creeps into our vision until it’s time to dye them again…or not…and the moustache had a couple and the chin several more and it’s no longer possible to trim that one or pluck it away as before…they aren’t going away…our memories hold when our bodies won’t…and our children are getting older…the lines on the door frame that used to be fun to mark once or twice a year are slowly catching-up with our chin and eye-level reaches…and we wonder where it’s gone…we wonder how it not only learned to sprint and spring away but to indeed flee and leave us watching…making yet more notes of its passing…she was only 11 months-old when we saw her the first time and she just turned 13 years-old…another was captured in a picture at almost three years-old with her arm in a cast and now she’s 26 years-old…and the first-born is crowing at 28 years…and those in between with babies and lives and house-payments and then…and my friend, Byron, whose gentle soul found the words that title this writing, noticed in awe the beauty and unbelievable 16 years of his daughter as he took her to school one day last week…it struck him how she’s not that little girl anymore who used to crawl into his lap with a favorite book or doll and sit there playing with his chin…time has fled with that little one and brought a beautiful young lady to take her place…unbeknownst to anyone watching…suddenly she is here…and we wonder again…where did the clock find the wind to sprint like this?

 

Thank you, Byron.