The second my body ceases its motion, they fly to me on
winged feet, stampeding down the runway that stretches from one end of this dirty old apartment to the other. The center of
their world has just plopped down on the couch and sensing the gravitational
shift, they’re drawn to me like magnets.
Then the climbing begins.
They stand on my bare feet, the hard plastic of their shoes
digging and twisting into the thin skin while they pull and push at my arms, my
legs, my clothing.
“Up, up,” they say, with wide, focused eyes.
They hunt and peck with an incessant stream of monosyllabic
words, each one falling with precision and persistence. Their words, their hands, wear away at me
like water dripping on a stone, like a hail storm aimed at me and only, always,
Every day it feels like I am sinking, like the swirling eddy
of children at my feet – the one who clutches my skirt and follows trippingly
along and the other who flings himself toward me from across the room – is going
to pull me under.
I tread water until nap-time, when precious silence falls on
us all and I wrap it ‘round me like a cloak and sit huddled in its calm. I drink it in, breathe it as it wields its restorative powers.
When they wake, crying, or smiling, calling “Ma-ma, ma-ma” I’m
mostly ready again with juice and snacks and a welcoming lap. I relish their sleepy-headed stillness, the
way the one sits against me, his unmoving weight carrying the same calming
effect as the silence of his absence.
In these first few moments after wakefulness, life is enough
for them, enough for us all and I soak up the contentment as they lift squat
plastic cups of juice to hungry chugging lips. I adore the pleasure with
which they consume one after another of a bowl of sticky, yellow raisins.
Then we’re off again.
Sailing, bobbing, floating along the long and winding stretch of time
that careens through the afternoon, toward the exhausting rapids and treacherous rocks of the