I. That One Corridor with Marine Life Mural on the Outskirts
Nurse, why don’t you lay down those bombs beneath my girl’s skin with a little more grace, Jesus? Screams ensue, fuck, why wouldn’t they. I measure each skin tent Nursy is making by shoving five marbles inside her blown-up skin. Look at that: ten marbles lodged and weighing down her arms; how will my girl rest her arms on the school’s tables with all the lumps in her? That has got to screw up the practice of penmanship, when your forearms become seesaws. I want to tell her a plan though, maybe an upside. Some day I’ll teach her to play Chinese checkers. We’ll have one of those pretend conversations she loves so much, where we interact like adults and we talk about going places. We’ll meet in a Parisian park and play the board game. She’ll say, don’t lose your marbles, Mommy. Too late, I’ll say, and she’ll push my wheelchair out of the sunlight.
II. That One Corridor with Free Iced Water
I would see him at the Farmer’s Market next to the hot coffee and churros, rummaging through the towering stacks of radishes. He’d turn to me and say, As spicy as these little things are,they do not make great little valentines. And he’d hold one up to the hole in my chest and say, See darlin’,everything is all right. You just got heartburn, again.
III. That One Corridor with Free Readers
Her yawns drip and extend the length of her lips, like a drawbridge to her castle. The Pixar loop in the hospital offers us preoccupation from beeps and chimes and strangers in pastel-and-teddy-bear scrubs coming in and out. Forget something incurable bumps, opens, and closes in and around your cells, little princess. A clear fluid stationed nearby drips into her arm. I have to go to the bathroom but don’t want to roll over on her tubes and leave her alone for one second in a place she doesn’t understand. So, like a kid, I cross my legs and hold it. Sometimes we hear other children crying too. I tell her of a girl I know whose brain is seeping into her spinal column. It’s sliding down from her head to back like a Jell-O shot. You never know when your body becomes part of your story. Needles and medication for life do have a say in what we become.
IV. That One Corridor with the Nurse who had Eyelash Extensions
Going down the gravel road in a car and sliding off seemed more daunting than just jumping out the door and letting go. It sounds complicated to have such a conversation within fractions of seconds when you’re out of control. However, it’s amazing what you can decide when both roads end in the same place. Jumping proved more enlightening.
V. That One Corridor with the Amber Light
When the birds are on fire with husky vibrations I‘ll step into downward dog. My spine crackles as a generator on low. I can feel myself getting shorter from carrying my girl. Stretch it out. Hold. Elongate. The floorboards will be cold under the balls of my narrow feet. It reminds me of loose change—those forlorn, dirty dimes and pennies, she and I find on the ground and press into our palms. We always wonder why others don’t pick it up. Why are we the ones okay with foraging the ground? She keeps it for her pink polka dot piggy bank. Finder’s keepers, we’ll sing. She’ll sing praise when I tell her I quit work to be with her 24/7. Mama Bear on duty; cub follow along or show me what you see. She’s incurable. However, with love we can forget a lot.
Her dimples cave deeper when I’ll tell her I’m homeschooling her now, because the school doesn’t have the capacity to treat her. Daily art prompts, rock climbing stints, and building rock sculptures teach her of balance and patience and Zen and physics. Gravity is glue on stacked sandstone and quartz and obsidian. See the adhesive of time at our hips. The passersby will see it, comment on our togetherness. With my hand I’ll count out the months until autumn. Six months to find a registered nurse on staff to treat her when I’m not there. She’ll sit with kids her age and write little stories and complete finger-knitted necklaces and produce directive drawings with beeswax block crayons and build fairy houses with other girls in dresses in the woods. I’ll be like her oxygen tank, but at times I cut off my own breathing to give her life when I suffocate from constant responsibility. Untether me, just for two hours, that’s all, my body, my mind, says. I’ll need the weight of the sky. I’ll need the absolute solace. And I’ll do so with the birds. Like an owl, the sun will be my bath.
Originally published in Prick of the Spindle, vol. 6.3, Fall 2012