Time. Travel. Toddlers.

A sultry summer Sunday, seven am, an hour past waking, Prince two-and-a-half, and Princess almost-five have had their first breakfast, and are ready, more than ready, to start the day here in sunny Philadelphia.

 “Are they ready yet?” says A. “I will check now.” I say.  

 I reach out across time and seasons to a nippy, drippy, winter’s nine pm, Sydney, Australia all the way to the apartment where my sister and her husband have made a new life. Their faces appear, somewhat sleepy in the late evening darkness, but suddenly lift, when they see A and E chittering like monkeys in front of them from 9869 miles across the world. 

And then the magic really begins.

In Star Trek, this was the future.Video phones connecting across the final frontier.  But Gene Roddenberry could only imagine what this was like with an adult’s practical eye.  In the hands of two toddlers, the static, piped-in, moving picture of beloved aunt and uncle becomes a kid’s most coveted and elusive wonder: a captive adult audience. 

They compare stinky feet,  praise pee in the potty,  follow my daughter into her bedroom where they take turns making gross faces and throwing up.  My sister opens her mouth wide and closes in on the camera, so close I can see the uvula, and my son runs screaming in fear and delight, “Don’t EAT me!!  Don’t Eat me!!” 

My brother-in-law disappears from the screen and in his place we see a ghostly blanket-covered ghoul attacking my hapless sister. “Help! Spiderman! Help.”  The two year old Spider man, naked from the waste down shoots webs from his wrists at the fiend, and the young warrior Princess strings her bow ready with the assist behind.  

They both leap up and down in victory, the screen showing bare butts and legs bouncing on the bed.  

Across the airwaves the children, my sister, and my brother-in-law play together, no distance between them. The rules of time, space, and sensible- computer-use are nothing but constructs of the adult world, quickly giggled away.  

These are the voyages of starship toddler, to boldly go where no one over 20 has gone before… 

 

  

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Kindreds

Kindreds.

I remember you

when I meet you

for the first time.

 

I feel the force

pulling us always

together, apart.

 

By blood or by bond.

We orbit the same sun.

Some kind of truth

we have been circling

all these years.

 

And if my summer solstice

tilt toward occurs

when you are in

your darkest days,

then you will know

a new day

is bound to dawn.

 

We hope to be released

from our unseen tether,

so that we may fall.

Dive into unending light

and burn away

the distance between us.

 

Each of us

on our own journey

we believe.

But seen together

a million miles from here

We are the cosmic dance.

A Mother’s Survival Shanty

Swimming lessons are first

to prepare for the worst.

I guess sailing could be useful too.

Some kind of marshal art.

When things fall apart.

Self-defense in a world gone cuckoo.

 

Perhaps building a fire,

or recognizing a liar.

Who knows what will keep them alive?

Building shelter by hand,

coaxing food from the land.

When I’m gone what will help them survive?

 

The world’s begun cooking

and so I am looking

for ways to build skills and plant seeds,

to help my kids weather

well, weather the weather

in the new world we made with our greed.

 

I dreamed him

I stand in the opening

of my daughter’s 

pale yellow bedroom

looking over her bed.

 

I dreamed him

lying on his side

like he would so often

In the New Delhi winter.

 

Morning fog dampening

his thin bones,

his paper bag skin.

His maroon knit cap

keeping the warmth 

from escaping his bald skull.

 

His thick specs hide his warm eyes.

He sleeps like a babe in utero

just next to my daughter’s curls.

They are at peace and safe. 

My four year old

girl, living, and

my 89 year old

grandfather, passed.

I dreamed him.