One of them swayed as she stood there, one hand on the tiny rump slung round her torso. pat- pat- pat. She was tired and hobbling a little but glowed with exertion, production.
She was one of three mothers, all having given birth seven days ago, thirteen days ago, eleven. Friends of mine, halloween party invites and playdate companions and sandpit watchers. Two mei-tais, one sling. The last time I saw them, all three were round. Now they are two. four. six.
I feigned a need to catch the last of Nelson’s eggs and weaved through the crowd to the sound of a fiddle and a guitar and a box-bass, of people ordering organic coffee and ooohing at fresh olive baguettes, and greenhouse raspberries, and earthy portobellos, and babies so new they do nothing but sleep where they belong, safe and enfolded, always the one escaping hand, fingers splayed, cheek squashed up hot and down-deep against familiar breast.
I contemplated standing next to the fire, an old metal drum that yawns a lazy column of ash into the air, but it was occupied, even in drizzle. I saw the path into the woods and kept walking. I saw where the path turned over the creek. I kept walking.
They’re not going to know where I’ve gone.
Ingiddboogoomin. Ingiddboogoomin, mommy.
In the dark just after lights-out I sing a song about a drifter, Woody Guthrie, who fell in love with a movie star. Every night for weeks now, months, they want the same song. He offers her his seed rather than his pennies. He is a mountain. She treads upon him, and he awaits the touch of her hand upon his hard rock.
Ingrid Bergman, yer so…
You'd make any mountain….
You’d make fire fly from the…
A horny drifter teaches my sons the arts of both wanting and drifting. It’s a more authentic romance, after all, one free of platitudes. It is human. Urges and blackness and aches and sidelong glances and parked cars that double as refuge from gold standards and rain.
Sometimes, contentedness is poking a finger into our wound and giving it a wiggle. For sheer sensation. For summoning. For a beginning, a balm, an unlocking key.
We yearn and mourn and scrape calloused heels in unbecoming ways. We covet. We hardly ever say what we mean. We disrespect a perfectly honourable and universal dark. We pretend despite instinct. We grip white-knuckled to precious truth with one hand, whipping ourselves with the other as though we should somehow be more enlightened than the animals we are.
I need you. I don’t need you.
We are unaware that even at our most absurd, there is no need to apologize. We wander, dreaming like meat of the sweet, hot breath of a siren.