The phone rang. It was my husband. Don’t open the front door, he said. Okay, I said. Why? This was yesterday–before the rain fell so hard that I jumped out of bed and ran around the house making sure all of the windows were shut, before I fell asleep reading about my ten ounce baby, before Mary brought over homemade peach muffins. There’s a bird, he said. A baby bird. I don’t think it can fly.
Trapped in our entrance way, there was indeed a bird. When C. finally opened the door I was scared to look. I thought it would be featherless and half-formed, but it looked as much like a bird as any bird. It was a sparrow, maybe, or a wren, perched on the ground in the corner behind a steel pipe.
We tore the heel of the staling wheat bread from the fridge and made a little path for the bird. I worried this was a test of my capacity for motherhood; I grabbed my camera. No way, C. said. The flash will scare it to death. Oh, I said. Motherhood test: failed.
A few people came over, and we closed the door and ate watermelon and Mary’s peach muffins and talked about poems. When they were leaving, the bird was gone. For much of the night, I dreamed wildly, and the baby fluttered inside of me, soft-winged, but then the rain came, and–for the life of me–I couldn’t manage to get back to sleep, so I settled for tea and reading and the steady sound of the still-falling rain.
And if you’re wondering where the toilet is…well, it’s sitting in the backyard. Unless, of course, you’re wondering where the new toilet is and, in that case, it’s sitting in the living room, next to the old vanity but below a stack of tiles waiting to be cut by the very loud and very messy tile cutter that’s sitting behind the couch. What couch? Oh, the one under all the plastic draping next to the Plaster of Paris.
I had thought re-doing a bathroom would be a contained project–one that happened only in the bathroom. How wrong I was. Combine this cup-runneth-over-project with the fact that the internet and the cable are out and the fact that my husband has decided to quit smoking, and there’s a real warm fuzzy feeling going on at this love shack.
Alas, I guess I’ll go sing the blues in the gym shower…
I’ve taken Total Body Conditioning in Nicaragua, Step Aerobics 3 is Amsterdam, some sort of French Vinyasa in Geneva, but nothing–and I mean nothing–could have prepared me for the spin class I stumbled into in Tulsa yesterday morning.
There’s this crew of hot-bodied stay-at-home moms in this town (and by stay-at-home I mean go-to-the-gym), and I marveled at their culture. They’re all laying around–a sugar-free half-caf nonfat vanilla latte in arm’s reach–with their magic circles and their ankle weights, and I want to point at my belly swell and be like, Dude, I’m preggers, but surely they’re thinking, Whoa, she can’t be pregnant, she’s pushing forty. (Okay, pushing thirty-four, but still…they pop them out young in these parts…)
Class (in unison):
The baby can now see. The book says the baby’s eyes are so sensitive that if I shine a flashlight at my belly, the baby will flinch and try to hide. I imagine flashing a sort of Morse code in: an I need you to be good, an I promise I’ll try, an I’m sorry I’m so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, a hush baby, an I love you, sweet one. When we went in for the ultrasound at thirteen weeks, the baby sucked on its pinky. So strange to have a child growing in me, sucking its pinky, ducking from light. I feel fat and happy and wish I only felt happy and even for that I’m sorry: I don’t want to be so selfish now. Driving these Oklahoma roads, the wind rushes in, and the baby moves. The moving feels like someone running their finger along a freshly healed cut; I shudder then long for it to happen again. Now, I’ll take us to bed where it’s dark and cool–my mother’s bed in my mother’s house though she’s left for the night to drive to work at a faraway hospital–, and there, on the pillows that smell the way my mother smells, we’ll sleep–my baby and me–where the only sound is the clicking of the fan and the only light is the one that will come in the morning.
Once a year, on the third of July, the church ladies of Joplin, Missouri–and I’d imagine there are quite a few–roll up their sleeves, get out their rolling pins and start making their pies. French silk, coconut cream, lemon meringue, good ole apple, blueberry crumble, boysenberry crisp, anything you can imagine, each for ten dollars a pop.
Poor, poor church ladies probably had to work overtime this year to take care of my insatiable sweet tooth.
And if you’re wondering why all of Joplin needs the endless vats of sugar and butter, it’s to get the energy up for the homegrown fireworks show courtesy of my father-in-law.
Between keeping both my eyes and refraining from eating an entire pie, looks like it might be a long day. Happy firecrackers and potato salad!!! Long live the lemonade.