To Help You Say the World
You have walkie-talkies and a yellow sundress that you love because
when the wind gets up under it, you balloon out like you are the sky.
Everything is like this for you. Each season is an incantation of a spell
that sends you reeling into fits of pleasure and delight. When you dream
at night, they are the dreams of a child so love-filled that your mind
bursts into kaleidoscope fantasies that propel you to wakefulness and
leave you shivering. And when you are angry, you burn like a little
firecracker, sending out sparks that prick and amuse the people around
You have two siblings which means that you have two bellwethers to
help you say the world. They flicker and blow in the wind so that you do
not have to. You all have little, pink bodies that burn easily and feel the
coolness of the summer grass much more acutely than anyone else does.
You track your growth in the inflections of your father’s voice when he
speaks easy to you.
Mostly, time slips by and you don’t mind. You are racing towards the
sun, you are hurtling into each year, gripping your parents and sisters by
the wrists, dragging them forward in a Red-rover line while birthdays
pass and baby teeth fall out and grandparents shrink inward on
You meet your great grandmother one time in December before she dies
of too much living and it frightens you. The smell of the place where she
lives, frightens you. Your father understands this. Your father is so alive
it is impossible.
Almost nothing can stop you. The ocean is certainly something. It
refuses to be crossed and you respect that. Even as you are, a little pink
thing who burns easily and eats too much candy, you respect the water.
It hypnotizes you. A few times you almost go in too deep. But there are
strong arms and sharp words to stop you. There is someone to catch you
when you come ashore, spat out by waves and scrubbed clean by sand
You get on a big, metal boat and cross channels. You are strapped into a
canoe and taken to see birds and tall grasses and horseshoe crabs. You
count jellyfish and come up with names for the shapes of seaweed. Birds
eat French fries out of your hands and every time you think they’ll catch
a finger as they whizz by. You confuse the sky with the ocean. You
scream so loudly that it empties you and you can continue living. You
don’t know what a period is. You hate your sisters so much you want to
be them. You are in a back brace that does nothing to your bones and
something to your self. You are always too hot, too thin, too rude, too
strange. You believe that somewhere in the ocean there is a sea king
who will eat you unless you bring him handfuls of dry land to devour.
You never finish your meals on time. You steal money from your friends
because they have enough of it that they are careless with their wallets
and change purses. You play house because you like knowing what to
do, who to be. You sing songs on swing sets. You are the sun. You
generate so much heat that it burns down the house three times before
your father finally has a talk with you about privacy. You dig a tunnel
down through the floor of your bedroom and deep, deep into the ground.
You go hunting for jewels and truffles and adventure. You find
something else instead. You run from it. You know that one day, it will
catch you anyway. You know that it knows that too. You always want to
wear the princess dress. You don’t look good in it. You are too thin. You
do not take your medicine. You are spoiled. You are milk left in the sun.
You are overripe. You are just right. You have a problem with authority
figures. You stabbed your best friend in the hand with a lead pencil. You
didn’t mean to. You did it anyway. You make your mother cry more
than anyone else. You know it is your fault. You are weak. You are
strong, your mother whispers to you at night, after she has stopped
crying about that thing you said or did. You are strong.
You are strong.
You are strong.
You are strong.
She says her own private prayers and you say yours. The language
varies, the intention always points north.
This place is a cathedral. When you look down on waves from the sky,
each ripple of undulating blue looks like a living thread in a tapestry.
You believe in the myths. You are not a fool. You are a little kid and
everything means something wonderful to you. Wonder hurts. Wonder
rakes your bodies with it claws and kisses you on the forehead. Wonder,
you do. About everything. About long words and looks between people.
About other countries and what happens on TV shows when the picture
fades to black.
Am I beautiful? Am I anything at all? Am I asleep, dreaming this whole
dream without any of you? Your mother takes you all to the beach for a
month without your father and you wonder what that’s supposed to
mean. Is it mean? How do adults calculate their feelings, anyway? For
some it’s a neat ledger, for others a notebook full of scraps of paper from
here and there and everywhere. Man, you love the Berenstein Bears.
What a cool treehouse. What an awesome polka-dot dress.
In brevity, you find transcendence. In the wind. In the summer. In the
blink of an eye. Flocks of birds gather and take flight, winding in slowmoving
circles over the whole world. You know. You are aware. You
sleep and feel migrations. You laugh and watch the way the world
acknowledges every little kindness, swallows every wrongdoing. You
vibrate with the golden years of childhood. The inside of your skull
tolling, bell-like. It is not philosophical, this feeling. It is not rare or
withheld from anyone. But it is high. It is above the earth with the birds.
And sometimes higher still.