Tuesday, February 23, 2010

net of riches


I was standing in the hallway, listening first to Daughter A and then Daughter B, back and forth, two different topics that gradually converged into one - their eyes shining with persuasive glee.  Standing there, listening, I watched the expressions flickering over these faces I've been reading for years. 

Remembering how I once read their fleeting first expressions, watching them fall asleep at the breast,  heavy violet eyelids drooping, flickering up, dropping down with only a glimmer of light still beneath their lashes.  

Watching the conscious shaping of a mouth around those difficult Rs and Ls - a small hand feeling my mouth while fighting to make a stubborn tongue turn and fold. 

These same faces coming to me to have their teeth wiggled, just checking, then the freshly blooded gap between the perfect small squares of baby teeth, the serrated edge of the new bigger tooth growing in. 

Feeling foreheads for fever, checking for pink eye, examining strange bumps.

Applying whiteface and glitter for the year they were snow fairies,  gold powder and rich purple liner for the first prom.  Watching them put on lipstick. 

Or rub sweat from sunburned faces, leaving grimy fingerprints above wide grins. 

Flush with embarrassment up on-stage, ear-tips beginning to glow. 

Exult at victory, eyes flashing and proud chins. 

My hands wiping tears around those peach-soft cheeks. 

The reluctant grin tugging at a stubborn sullenness. Eyes hot with outrage or soft with sympathy. The sideways glance right before laughing.

And I felt my heart squeeze.  So many rich years.  So many tears and shouts of laughter.  So many notes slipped under my pillow. 

So many in-jokes and repeated irritations. So many words and braids and backrubs.  So many manifold muchness that my heart just can't contain.

There are things I would change if I were to do it again.  But only if I could be guaranteed to end up here, standing in the hallway, reading these faces, caught like I am with them in the same rich net of years.

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