I don’t remember his name. One morning, he was my close friend. He kept saying, “You okay?” And I’d turn, look at him, and nod.
The morning Robin was born, a woman put her hands on my back. We shut eyes. Stewart was there, but he wasn’t part of this. I thought about two fires, two nests and whether Robin was sleeping. She moved, hands on my arm. I thought about burns, mercury and whether Robin was turning. She left, and then the nurse came in.
Stewart and I must have said goodbye in that room, the one with the flower prints, but I don’t remember. He changed his clothes alone once I left. In the operating room, my friend numbed my legs with one hand on my back. I sat like a doll, stiff at the top and all dumb at the bottom. And I thought: I don’t feel it. Someone move my doll legs for me. And they did, up under a fluorescence.
Last week, I almost fell off my bike. We were riding and Vermont got pretty. Sun moved from behind a tree, a mountain, and Stewart and I stopped. Lost. For a minute, he didn’t have a face. I didn’t have a body, or a baby, or a head. We were just young and happy and totally blind. All around, spring worked quiet.
Earlier, I sat in the house and estimated the move. Every couch was cornered. Every light, adjusted to a height. The coffee table has one nick. And I ordered my thoughts like a room: Where’s the money? When’s the doctor? What if the birthday rains? What if my mother dies? Behind me, all the birds kept leaving the feeder.
From another room, Robin sounds. Flickering. Stewart and he play a game about tickling. There’s shrieking. A scream. Above that, laughing. Little fingers twist under the blanket. Hands reach for the cracked ceiling. And when I join in, we are one family in one room, young and happy and totally blind. Noise gets out by the window.
When Robin was born, there was no noise. He escaped, but I don’t know when. My friend said something, pointed. And I looked. Looked and nodded. Between us, a blood-specked sheet and some bright light, blinding. I imagine it hit Robin like the sun hit Stewart and I, breaking the need to speak; ruining thought in favor of bright. And that we were quiet then, all of us, like on the path. All these machines working around us. Spring, saying something we still don’t get.
After they left, I looked at my friend. I said his name like a question. “You’re okay,” he said, nodding. And I nodded. Nodded and looked. Looked and smiled, wild. Some light moved. Some person touched me. And then the nurse left. I waited with my knit-up gut, blinking, my doll legs still still, while Stewart hummed to Robin in the other room.
After our game, the one in the room, we have to settle down. Stewart plays the guitar while Robins sits, tipping like a top. Robin climbs sea folds to find Stewart’s sound. He puts his hands on the guitar. And I think two boys, two screams, and I’m the mother. He touches the strings. I think calm down, be sound, and when will this be over. Please don’t be over.