Saturday, May 9, 2009

to momma, on mother's day

I know your hands better than my own. The way you’d press into the small of my back and rock me to the comforting rhythm of “mm mm mm mm bay ay be” over and again until I calmed into ocean, cradled into womb. Amazed now at how instantly this works 46 years on, as I lay on my side, knees pulled waist high, rocking myself to sleep, your soothing voice repeating in my head like a meditation, “mm mm mm mm bay ay be.”

I know your hands. The way you brush my hair from my face with two fingers.

And there, parked at the wall, I’d trace the rivulets on the back your hand. There was no drive-thru then, but we would eat in the station wagon anyway, burgers balanced on our laps, carefully unwrapped. This was our special time, in the days when only tens of thousands had been served.

Between bites, I’d trace the veins of your right hand with my finger tip, suppressing the current which would pop back up after my passing. Pausing at each fork to choose which path to take as if the decision mattered. My own rivers ran deep beneath the surface then, faintly blue. How many times later, I would grip my other wrist with the fingers of my right hand and squeeze, pumping my fingers until the veins in my left hand would pop high. I would search for patterns and compare them to yours. Were my hands like yours? No, I have Dad’s hands. Ellie has yours.

In the car, we’d dig into the bag, fishing for french fries stranded at the bottom and dip them into dots of sweet ketchup. You slurp chocolate. I, strawberry. We hold hands and talk about everything and nothing.

Now the currents of my own river carry me forward, mindful that the choices rest in my own hands. And still frequently, I come upon familiar places, like there, at the turning of a corner, and I realize that the path I travel is not accidental. You have carved it out for me -- shaped the banks and laid the stepping stones. And the sound of your voice in my head remains an anchor so that I can rest, rocking in stillness.

Happy Mother’s Day, Momma. I love you.

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