Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Remember those early days when sitting in a porcelain tub of warm water with the rubber stopper on the silver chain keeping it all from going down the drain, the world seemed so wigglly squiggly, so barely there and ghostly. Mother and father seemed to change and the others did too, and sometimes you had a sister or two and sometimes you had none and sometimes your aunt was called Robin and sometimes she was called Betty. All these people all these sounds and shapes seemed to shift around in a way that was neither significant nor lacking significance, just a bit of nature dancing for my developing powers of observation like leaves caught in a little whirlwind on the side walk, turning round and round so that the configuration is different in every moment. This is the reason that carousels hold so much appeal for young children, because they turn and turn in a circular fashion and there is no way of telling whether your lion is in the lead or taking up the rear or somewhere in the middle and meanwhile you bob up and down and with the mirrors there is no way of telling if you are the real child on the real sculpted lion or if that other child and lion are the originals. Bath time, so warm and pleasant and wet, with the water jiggling around your body, so like the womb and so like the sea from which all life arose, back when it was still hot and red, the perfect melting pot for this and that to come together in amoebic ecstasy. The wash cloth is soft and squishy and you can put it in your mouth and bite and all the water squeezes out and dribbles out of the corners of your mouth and down your chin in the most delightful way. The water moves when you move, jiggling slightly. All of life is like that when you are a baby. Every time you move you are somewhere different, with a different crowd, strangely familiar, familiarly strange, forever and ever. Then slowly, the waters of life start to cool and freeze. Things seems steadier, thanks perhaps to the magick words you have been learning. Mother and Father are almost always the same, you generally have the same set of siblings, an aunt whose name remains the same. Perhaps it’s because of the magick words, because when you say “Mamma” this is the one that you mean, the one that you invoke. It’s a tricky thing, because Mamma taught you the magick word, so really she taught you how to invoke her, and the other Mammas, the ones who didn’t teach the words for things, they don’t get called, so they never come again. Only this one, the one that tricked you with the word of power, and now you are here with her, stuck in the frozen world and your legs have grown long and stiff and you no longer bathe, but instead stand in the shower. You no longer ride the carousel, but instead read the books and do the homework and watch the world materialize around you like steel bars. A steady, stable place. Gone is the shifty watery world of infancy. Gone is bath time with all its jiggly wet wonder, and gone too is baby, and all that is left of it is a word for what it was.

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