Friday, August 30, 2013

Photo/Text 5: Hands

“I want to marry him,” she said when she was five and he was two, and she was indignant when a six-year-old neighbor girl declared that siblings marrying was not only against the rules but also disgusting. Later, when she had to part with him to go to kindergarten, at the end of the day she would run to him from the school bus, grabbing his hands, crying, “All day at school I’ve been yearning to hold your sweet baby boy hand that’s soft as silk and rose petals!” And now he is five, and his big sister, who can read books without pictures, who can braid and multiply, still leads him everywhere by the hand. He says to her, “I want to marry you. Is that OK?” And she replies with her indulgent smile, evasive: “Well, we can live together always. How about that, sweetie?” Yet he protests: “I want to marry you,” the word carrying some special meaning in his five-year-old heart, and so she marches him up and down the sidewalk in front of our house, telling him something in a low voice, explaining the ways of the world, never letting go of his hand.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Photo/Text 4: Skin

When he sees the rim of the blue whale rising from the Pacific like a landmass, most of it hidden iceberg-like below, when he learns that its heart weighs 1,200 pounds and beats only six times a minute, that a human could swim through its aorta, and after the whale goes down, when he looks long at its footprint on water, the kiss of its full body on the surface, I suddenly think of the snakeskin found by his sister years ago on the steppe of western Nebraska under a harvest moon, the dermis still wet and pliable from a recent molt, and how, a trimester away from birth, he shuddered within me, as if in anticipation of one day being gifted this treasure so that he could gently hold the skin of another beast close to his own, asking if the snake that shed it six years before was still alive, and if so, where it was and what it was doing—and so, I hope he continues to remember the whale whose presence is like the snake’s: a being he almost knew, almost touched, a being whose vestige of skin or hidden heart have imprinted on his mind, a being to wonder about always.