Month: October 2015

“Mama, this bag keeps falling over.” Minor frustration in his voice.

“Well, hmm. What can we do?” I start looking around for a solution.

“I can stabilize it with my hand.” He comes up with his own.

“Does that work for you?” Checking in.

“Yes.” He’s back to center.

“Okay.” Cool.

A little boy, three times around the sun, sitting on the sidewalk. His legs a w, mouth caked with icing from a heart-shaped sugar cookie. Brilliant white clouds, mobiles hanging here and there in a cobalt blue sky. Lights above us in the distance, far enough away, too many to count, a sea of asynchronous flashes, the backdrop for a little boy opening berries and asking questions, orange-red skins clinging to steel blue-grey shirt, white flesh stuck to moving fingers, small black seeds delivered to earth before he plucks another.

“Why am I squishing berries?” he asks.

“To find the seeds,” I say.

“Why do the berries have seeds?” he asks.

“The berries have seeds to grow new plants to make new berries to grow new plants. Reproduction,” I say. “It is their way of staying alive.”

A little boy goes back to squishing berries, curious and silent and focused, perhaps considering my words or perhaps lost in a tangle of thoughts I cannot see. I watch him, bathed in the golden glow of a low-hanging early autumn sun, his eyes cast downward, eyelashes catching light at the point just before they make a striking reversal in trajectory toward the heavens, while just out of sight police officers stand outside cars angled haphazardly across the road, doors open, red and blue lights turning in conversation with their compatriots at the opposite end of a long bridge. A crime scene. Camera crews admonished to the sidewalk, piling up one behind the other as a procession of people, solemn, approach a charter bus waiting just inside bright yellow tape. A little boy in front of me, so much bigger than he used to be, so small still, so much yet to experience and feel and learn. Tears start in my gut, find their way to my eyes. I grew him. I made a person so that he might make a person to make yet another person. Reproduction. My way of staying alive. Reductionist, but a kernel of biological truth. It is a long chain, behind me echoes of all who lived and died so that I could live, too, ahead of him whispers of all who will, each of us essential, none of us without the existence of the other. In front of me a new life unfolds, tragedy just a smattering of steps away. Tears still coming, tears of gratitude, wonder, tears full of the incomprehensibility of it all, tears full of love, tears of uncertainty and fear, tears of grief. Berry squishing abandoned, we throw dried seed pods from a sweet gum tree, peel apart the petals of pine cones. The beginning of life is everywhere, twined inextricably to its end.