7:03pm: We’re “home.” I forgot to leave the porch light on. I show Stewart how to open the front door with his key. One turn, then two. Etched in the knocker is the name of our landlord’s father, long dead. The garage door is open from the movers.
7:23pm: I undress Robin in his new room. No lamps lit, we move under the harsh light of the overhead fixture—circa 1960—limbs throwing clean shadows on the dun-colored walls. Robin looks. Robin looks at me.
7:40pm: Bath water runs. I hold Robin on my hip next to the porcelain sink, and we stare, far away, as the tub fills with soapy water. One foot, then two. He finds the boundaries of his new boat, slick and unfamiliar, and at one far corner turns, eyelash dripping, and looks. He looks at me. On the wall behind us, a medicine cabinet rusts under the mirror.
9:41pm: Stewart and I lie on the mattress while Robin stirs next door. There are no curtains. One empty branch moves outside. Two. I think about the Arundel Tomb, the poem and the piece. Lucky and animated, Stewart and I turn our heads to face each other.
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know.”
2:13am: Robin cries. One diagonal blade of light bisects the bed where we are not sleeping. From the bathroom, a vent hums.
I turn an ancient gold knob, then another. Robin stands in his crib, announcing himself to the length of the room. All cavern and wood, his Grand Canyon responds. And I interrupt the introductions with a hooded hug, muffled and blunted. I hum a song we learned together. I think the words but don’t say them.
4:36am: Branches. Vent. Blade. I blink. We’re outside, having a birthday party. One red picnic table sits in the yard. White frosted cupcakes dot white ceramic servers, and there are lemons in pitchers. I shift. We’re outside again, another birthday party, only it’s later and we’re older. All the kids are taller and running.
I remember the graffiti in Robin’s room. I saw it when I first visited this house, someone else’s home. I lingered in the bedroom while the landlord, still talking, left the hall. I opened the closet and saw, at kid’s height, the word “boys” scrawled on the wall.
Boys. We’re having two, I think. One, then two. Boys.
5:12am: Robin is awake. Husband and wife slap feet on a dirty floor. Adult weight echoes down the hall as we stumble to sterilize a bottle, to remember the steps.
I remember the picture of bringing Robin home. I stand, pale, under a hanging plant. There’s a mailbox with no name. In the next photo, Stewart does the same, but looks out. We’re both one stoop step off the spring dirt.
5:17am: Robin drinks while he slow blinks in our chair, in our new corner. “Boys” sits etched in the dark. I watch the neighbors silent speak across the yard.
5:36am: We’re in bed. Robin sits and slaps daddy’s head. Slaps daddy’s head again. Robin giggles and falls over. Sits up. Falls over.
Robin tries the mama. Pulls the mama’s hair, eats the hair, pulls the hair again. Slaps mama. Bites mama’s cheek. Bites. Bites harder. I shriek. Robin giggles and falls over. Sits up. Falls over.
5:52am: He blinks. Turns his head on the pillow. Blinks. Blinks and looks. Looks at me. Looks at me. Sleeps. Sleeps harder.