Wednesday, September 25, 2013
How We Do It: Part XXXIV in a series
When I forget to take a breath and take a breath, it's like late afternoon sun that slants through a door, sirens outside, through a glass and down a marble bar. The bartender squints, his shiny black head gleams, I take a sip of amber and swallow. A long time ago, I sat in a pale coffee-checked armchair on the fourth floor with my baby girl. She was inconsolable for hours at a time, twenty out of twenty-four, I wrote in my spidery script in the spiral notebook for the visiting nurse. I tallied the baby's jerks. Despite the twice daily injections, the baby jerked and now screamed. One, two, three, four, five, a slanted cross over upright sticks, hundreds of slanted crosses over upright sticks. Two years earlier -- or was it? -- I had walked with the small bald Vietnamese man, at the back of the crowd, his robed bent frame in front, twenty blocks, peace in every step. I knew to breathe and how to. Sitting in the coffee-checked armchair on the fourth floor with my baby girl, crying, I knew to breathe. Breathing in, I calm myself. Breathing out, I smile, I said in my head, under breath and through it. The small, bald man gleamed at the front of the line, before the baby, in my head as I sat in the chair with the baby, as I sat at the bar years after the baby, as I lifted my glass, the amber, the sunlight. Breathe and swallow.