She sits straight-backed in the hand-me-down recliner her parents unloaded on us a few weeks back. The broken handle of the aforementioned chair rests uselessly on the floor, leaving the main body no more than a mechanically inclined and overstuffed rocker. She’s less swollen today than she has been for months now, thanks in part to the wiggling little girl in the duck print onesie at her breast. A ray of light is slanting in through the modestly shut curtain in front of the large plate glass window and it shines in upon them both, turning her brown hair gold and the babe’s black to brown. She reclines her head against the rest, the baby happy enough to suck unaided, and the light flashes off the lenses of her black frame glasses, glinting on a silver plated skull that marks the temple.


The line of light cuts across her chest in a diagonal from her left ear to her right hip. It illuminates the clockwork heart inked on her chest and the myriad bats pumping from the vena cava and sundry pulmonary pathways in clouds of greys and purples. Further down it highlights a cluster of purple, jagged marks that make it look like her stomach was assaulted by a number of tenacious, long-clawed cats. They circle her middle in a lazy sine like regal hash marks on a dungeon wall. They do not mark days, but I suppose they could mark the weeks she held the little girl within that same side. Her right hand lazes on its paired thigh and the fingertips of her fore and middle fingers tap along to the lullaby I taught her. It is off key from the harmonics I wrote down, but it serves just as well, and the atonal shifts help add to the tune.

She raises her head and squints in the brightness off the light, waves her hand at me to close the curtain more. I comply and the streak of gold falls away like Eden. She smiles with her teeth and rests her head again on the back of the chair. A stray auburn lock has fallen on her cheek but she makes no move to shift it, content as she is with the blessedly quiet infant in arm. The dark circles under her eyes are testament to the hourly battle against dampness, dirtiness, hunger and gas. She will take her rest when and where it comes.


I leave her to rest her eyes and the little one to take its evening tea and go about finding some way to make myself useful. Perhaps I’ll wash the bottles again.



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