"He is paralyzed by something happening far away" --Tomas Tranströmer, "Lament"
Lament: Five Ways of Looking
1. Four year-old comes in from playing at dinnertime and says, "What's happening now? What's happening now in another town?" He wants to know if it's night anywhere in North America.
2. It is night, and his father and I are sitting with our failures as parents, tender toward each other then. "And then there's ..." I begin, then change the subject. He asks me what I was going to say. "Oh, nothing. I was just thinking about mortality." I give up and go to bed.
3. In the morning, NPR is on in the kitchen as usual. Some mornings we talk in an animated way about the government, making exclamations. Today I say, "I can't talk about the government right now." C starts to talk about controlling what you can, about the long game. "I can't talk right now," I say. And it's true. Here are the words that occur to me when I try to think about it: "struck dumb"; bereft; done; still; again.
4. We rediscover a book of poems the landlady gave E for Christmas a couple years ago, the kind of book you might circle back around to at different times. He is struck by a poem about a baby eating a microchip and doing his father's taxes. "What if I ate a microchip? What if the poem was about me?" Eyes sparkling.
5. I let him play with the hose, experimenting with watching him from the kitchen window. He keeps leaving it on and coming in the back door. "Go turn it off if you're coming in." "I'm not done!" He tromps back outside and plays with it some more, then leaves it on and comes back in. "Go turn it off if you're coming in." "I'm not done!" And etc. The Beckettian mother-child dyad. The performance art that is being a young child. The vaudeville act we would be if you could see us. All that water buys me only enough time to put water on the stove for spaghetti. He finally turns the hose off. As he is taking off his rain boots, he tells me that the hose was crying. "It was laughing, and now it's crying. It has tears in its water-shooting eyes."