By Ellen Bryant Voigt
The fingers lie in the lap,
separate, lonely, as in the field
the separate blades of grass
shrivel or grow tall.
We sat together in the little room,
the walls blotched with steam,
holding the baby as if the two of us
could breathe for him and were not helpless.
Upstairs, his sister turned in her sleep
as the phone rang—
to have wakened to a child’s cry,
gagged and desperate,
and then repeat that terror when the call
split the quiet house and centered
its dire message:
a child was dead
and his mother so wrung by grief
she stared and stared
at the moon on its black stalk,
the road glistening like wire.
Rubbing the window clear of steam
as a child rubs sleep from its eyes,
and looking past the fence to where
he had plunged the sled up and down the hill,
we could still see the holes his feet made,
a staggered row of graves
extracting darkness from the snow.
When morning brought the new year in,
the fever broke, and fresh snow
bandaged the tracks on the hill.
For a long time we stayed in the room,
listening to him breathe,
like refugees who listen to the sea,
unable to fully rejoice, or fully grieve.
It rained hard all morning, so we got a slow start -- the young people were not even downstairs till noon -- then we had a nice busy afternoon, Paul made lunch, we went to Brookside Gardens' conservatory so they could see the holiday flowers and the train display, we stopped at Roots Market since we were up in that direction and got veggie stuff, then we met my elementary school friend Hildy and her husband plus two of her daughters for dinner at Cava (the third stayed back to babysit their dog at her grandparents' house) and talked for over two hours!
So it was awesome to see them, and afterward we came home, lit the menorah, and watched Us, which being a horror movie is really not my thing but which had a lot of very enjoyable performances and was definitely not boring! Here are a few photos of the garden, a post-dinner selfie, the last night of Chanukah, and Katniss watching the movie with Daniel, with whom she begrudgingly agreed to share the couch after having tried to sprawl over the whole thing: