Tuesday, December 6, 2011


One asks how do the flowers know when to come up out of the grass, those bulbs we planted, the ones that look like wrinkly rocks, like yucky onions, how do they turn green and pretty and above-ground, when we put them underground? and one asks but how does the phone know, when you push the ‘5,’ what a 5 IS? and how does it know what to do with it? and how does it know that you pushed it? and one says MAMA!! again and again, laughing at himself, expecting our laughter (which equals approval), because he said it, my name, called me, while holding his nose, because someone(s) (his sisters) taught him how to make his voice go nasal with that small squeeze and he thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world, and in this moment it is, my toddler’s oddly-baritone boom turned strangled AFLAC duck sending love for his mama and sisters out into the universe and this rainy gray morning.

image via hellosweetie

I could say things about photosynthesis and melting frost and microchip processors and teeny-tiny wires and rely on what science I can conjure from the wheel of a moving car. But that’s so much pixie dust to them, so I think maybe I should say it’s pixie dust. And then it doesn’t matter, because they’re all three calling me through plugged noses.

My gaggle.

I realize I have no idea, really, how a bulb grows into a flower and I have no idea, really, how she understand the concept of a button, since the ‘5’ she sees me ‘push’ is part of a flat glass screen and she uses the word ‘dial,’ fluently, a word stripped so entirely of its original meaning that I don’t think she has ever once seen a circular call-initiating mechanism but I understand her, and she me, and so we both think about the purple flowers we hope to see in spring, the ones we planted as wrinkled rocks.

They’re both an act of faith, really, like strapping your three most tender belongings into a gray box and hurtling through rush hour on a rainy DC morning. Planting a bulb or placing a call or kissing my loves and sending them into the care of other women’s hands for eight hours: they’re acts of hope.

All day today I could not stop thinking about gray skies and Susan, who has been suffering as she fights breast cancer and Michelle, who has the best spirit one can conjure as she begins her new fight (at age 33! younger than me!) against breast cancer, and my mother's 72-year-old friend, fighting and sad; and my gaggle, whom I love and sent off to other rooms of the world so I could run my own day under raindrops; and that I hate talking on the phone and I don’t understand growths I can’t see and I feel inadequate relying on anything so pixie dust as hope or faith and that I really don’t even know how to plant flower bulbs, but I hope my gaggle sees purple flowers this spring.

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