Dear Seven: A Circle of Epistles (5)
Part 5 in a series of 7
I hope this letter finds you well.
Here is what I think I want to tell you.
I sleep on my left side with one leg out, one leg curled in, and one arm out and the other curled in. I read once that this is an indication of an essential conflict of self.
Possums live in our garage. Our dog will carry one around in her mouth while the possum plays dead. Even though the animal appears lifeless, its heart is beating. When we tell the dog to drop it, the possum scuttles away to hide amid gardening tools, clay pots, bags of mulch and dirt.
My husband built a boat which hangs in the rafters of the garage. You can row it or sail it. He thought, after his mother died, that his father would like a wood-working project to distract him from his grief. So he bought the plans for the boat and set the project up in his father’s garage. But his father never took an interest and so Jim built the boat in our garage. His father died a year and a half after his mother.
We’ve used the boat once; me, Jim and our boys, Henry and Grant. We floated.
Sometimes as we drift off to sleep, my husband will apologize for his tiredness saying, I’m sorry, my train is leaving the station. And then we depart each other, even as we sleep together.
Babies and small children often sleep on their backs, arms flung out, because they are not conflicted and worry about nothing.
Yesterday in the woods, our dog found a huge, dead bird. It lay, split wide open, black feathers and red guts. The dog did not touch the bird.
My father says that my Italian grandfather courted my Irish grandmother by taking her rowing. I picture my grandmother’s pale, soft beauty, my grandfather’s sweat and desire. My father would never use the word desire to tell this story.
I am trying to decide if the fact that I don‘t know you is making this easier or harder to write?
Once, when we were visiting my husband’s parents, they offered to take our first child, Henry, so we could sleep in. I saw them, smiling down at our sleepy, milky baby, nestled between them in their own bed.
Sometimes, when our boys were sleeping babies, I’d want to wake them, to make sure they were alive, and because I missed them so much.
Lately, we’ve been killing mice. The traps are not always effective. Two nights ago, Henry, who is almost twenty now, found a mouse with one tiny paw stuck in the trap. He flailed violently until Henry released him, then he ran away. All of this bothered Henry, as it would anyone, I think.
I went to bed late last night but Henry wasn’t home yet. My first thought this morning was, where is Henry? I looked in his room. He was asleep on his back, one arm crossed over his head, partially covering his face.
The mice run through our house, I’ve met them on the stairs.
As I write this, my husband is awake, our sons still asleep. They drift, they float. If I wake them, they will stare at me speechless, momentarily without words or memory.
I have a book on my shelf called, Winter Sleeping Animals. I bought it because I thought the title was so beautiful. It’s a children’s book that describes the ways and reasons that animals hibernate. I recall another children’s book I used to read to the boys about a family of bears that awoke from hibernation to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Chris, I hope you sleep like a baby and that every morning begins with wordlessness and love.
by Cecilia Pinto