5:45pm: We leave. Robin sits, flapping his wings, and I push, watching his wings.
We walk past the good dog.
“Dog,” Robin says, pointing to its lean body. And I confirm, “Dog,” to the air in front of me. Both of us—barking nouns at a late afternoon.
We pass the bad dog.
“Dog,” he says. And I repeat, “Dog,” as if there are no questions what things are. As if everything we saw, we understood and could name.
5:47pm: I walk under the block’s trees and watch the branches block the sky. The pattern breaks a vastness I can’t handle alone, and I consider giving it a name. I decide I can’t give it a name.
5:55pm: Robin laughs out loud. Robin coughs. I don’t know why. We pass a baby. We pass a stream. Robin drinks his milk. Robin addresses the stream.
6:10pm: We scale a small slope, and I stop to drink some water. I’m pregnant again, and I remember this often.
I stop to watch Vermont happen on our side. One flat lake and then a hill. Hill. Hill. As if that’s all it does. As if that’s all there was—some knownness. A hill. Hill. Hill.
Robin points to the fence.
“Fence,” I say, holding what keeps us in. “Fence.”
6:25pm: We pass a dog. We race the shade. Robin claps. I don’t know why.
6:30pm: Someone’s coming. I saw him, first, in a park, a few years ago. He’s always just one color: blue, or a red. So far, just one thing: alive, not dead.
Stewart sees us. “Da,” I say, alerting Robin. “Da,” and the word just keeps going—like hills. Like we found the only word that isn’t afraid.
Stewart walks toward us. And I think, for one moment, everyday, “He’s coming.” And, “This has just started.” I think, for one moment, everyday, “This won’t ever end.”
7:40pm: Robin’s food is burning. Robin’s bath is running. I stand in front of the sink while the dishes listen. I stand in front of the sink while the lilac blooms brown. All this sound means nothing bad can happen right this instant. Right this instant, nothing bad is happening.
8:10pm: Robin’s in his crib. There’s no sound in the bedroom where we live. Stewart and I are near the ground, facing up, ahead. We direct words to a borrowed roof:
“How long will she live?”—meaning my mother.
“What do we do next?”—meaning ourselves.
And then the words end, and sleep begins.
9:55pm: I’m awake, but Stewart is sleeping.
12:12am: I’m awake, but Stewart is sleeping. Someone’s here.
If I don’t open my eyes in the room, nothing bad happens. When I open my eyes in the room, something bad happens. Night lives. And I can see nothing enough to name what it is.
Ceiling. Lock. Jamb. Head. What talks? What gives?
2:55am: Robin is awake, but I’m sleeping.
Robin wakes up. Robin wakes up. Robin wakes up.
And I consider the chicken that pecks in his book about pigs. Peck, peck, peck, it says, and the chicken moves its head. Wake, wake, wake, I say, and the mother moves her limbs.
3:00am: Ceiling. Lock. Jamb. Head. What lives?
3:05am: I hold Robin in the middle of the night, in the middle of his room.
I hold Robin in the middle of our night, in the middle of a room.
I hold Robin. I hold Robin. I hold Robin.