Sunday, October 29, 2006


He curves in against my body, an exhaled breath, a whisper of fingers on his hair, I catch the scent of ocean--sweet and salt and wind--he smells like the color grey. He offers me the book--this time about football, muscle, and mud. This bedtime story tells me something about his progress into his masculine identity--my boy-o loves the sweat, the blood, the physicality of the game. My son is growing up.

She unfurls her white silk blanket over her lap--dances her thick fingers through the ripples of fabric. Earlier, she wailed. Earlier she said,
"I don't love you, Momma."
Earlier she wrenched away from me, tears beading down her cheeks--frustrated, frenetic, alive with my "No" reply to her request. Outraged. A toddler storm. I weathered it, holding her until her body slackened against me again--until her fingers wrapped through the ragged tendrils of my hair and we both breathed deeply to steady our electric heartbeats.
Bedtime story.
Now, we read about the magical treasures down the back of the chair...she delights in the watercolor moon--the pastel baby eating a parfait--the vibrant striped snake--the elephant with lipstick. The day's struggles are gone...together, we read--night pressing against the windowpanes--my lap still just enough to cradle her.

Another book.
This time, a chapter of the story we've been re-reading. My oldest girl and I peer again into the familiar life of another ten-year-old girl whose family is suddenly homeless in an apple orchard in California...she is right there beneath the moonlit rows of trees--the rich tang of rotting apples with each inhalation--the fireflies candling the boughs in the distance. In our character's pocket, the glass doorknob from her house's bedroom door--her security--her dreams. I pause in my reading of this favorite of hers for a moment and catch sight of the clear beveled-glass drawer-pulls on my daughter's cream-colored dresser...the ones she wanted after reading this bedtime story months before.

She has turned a piece of this fiction into tangible fact. Each morning, when she touches the cold glass, the novel is with her and she is thankful for her blessings...for home. She no longer needs to be read to...has had this ability for seven years, and yet every single night she listens to my dramatic delivery or her father's steady rhythm--reading the bedtime stories of her childhood.

I do not plan to stop this.

Let her come home with a broken teenaged heart from some boyfriend's house...I will pull Neruda from the bookshelf and tend to her wounds. Let him have a tough, bone-crunching game--his body bigger than mine--his flesh dotted with bruises...I will get out my Kerouac and read to his wanderlust and his open-mind. Let her fight with me--break against me--deny her love in an adolescent fit of rage...I will perch on her bed, even as her face is turned away from me to read Oliver's lines: "You do not have to be good..."

These words..their bedtime stories, frame my nights and show the children's growth...release our daytime struggles and illuminate the dark-shadowed trees with the blaze of a thousand candles...


Blogger melba said...

I just read your last ten posts (and your daughters poems) while eating my favorite lunch of mozzarella and tomato with basil and balsamic vinegar on french bread and drinking piping hot black tea my mother-in-law brought me back from Ireland. It is a lovely thing to read someone whole. to see and feel all the angles instead of rushing to the comments to feel myself heard. (sometimes I check myself to see if I am commenting just to be noticed myself, you know?)
And lately I have been catching myself judging some of my beloved blogging sisters. Because sometimes I feel (read)too much...not emotion...maybe too much flattery (not to me, but amongst other bloggers) and it all seems impossible to be sincere. It could be just me and my own fears.

Reading you now... you are so genuine and honest; it makes my heart smile, my soul comfortable. and the fact that you plan on reading your son Kerouac....
Your words make me swoon.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Becoming Amethyst said...

the blaze of your motherlove burns brightly across your dark screen too, and i drink it in
exacting and beautiful, you ravishing wordsmith x x x

2:16 PM  
Blogger Inconsequential said...

cool :)

3:16 PM  
Anonymous acumamakiki said...

Oh how I love this. I hope that even as my girl grows bigger, finds words on her own, that she'll still delight in hearing story from my lips. I love how you'll read her poetry when she's older, knowing those words will soothe a teenaged girl's soul.

4:54 PM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

This is such a beautiful post - the importance of books and stories in all our lives - in all the phases of our lives - is evident, in your poetic prose and imagery. Your story really touched my heart; thank you.

6:43 PM  
Blogger (Ni)mo.Ni said...

That's lovely. I love the glass knobs part.. Very beautiful.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

Oh Mama you. Such a strong one you are-lucky children you have. I love reading your words.


10:41 PM  
Anonymous yak attack said...

Beautiful post! I love how you have kept the continuity of reading throughout the years, changing as the needs of your child changed.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

Oh Delia... This is just so beautiful. It should be read by many more, in some journal or magazine! What loving moments. I get it. I also want this reading to be a love I pass on and share with them, my two little soul-mates. How special.


12:20 AM  
Blogger Deb R said...

That's beautiful. I love the story of your daughter choosing the glass pulls for her dresser. And my favorite phrase in this is "he smells like the color grey." That's magical!

12:30 AM  
Blogger b/sistersshoes said...

Delia~ this was ravishing, tender and beautiful...making me want to be a child again

and living in your home :)

love to you,
XXX Darlene

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer (she said) said...

You get right to my mother-heart. Your words are beautiful as always but what they mean is even better. You remind me that you always remind me to pay attention. And the words "I weathered it" are a perfect way to say what it is to hold a child through their emotions - to get them through.

Thank you.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Intrepidflame said...

These words..their bedtime stories, frame my nights and show the children's growth...release our daytime struggles and illuminate the dark-shadowed trees with the blaze of a thousand candles...

Nicely said. It is a pleasure to read your work...

10:07 AM  
Blogger Ali la Loca said...

I don't even know what to write. This was gorgeous. I was there with you, with your children, with the whispers of those stories. Sometimes I am just blown away by how beautiful your writing is. Today is one of those occasions.

12:49 PM  
Blogger sophie said...

a perfect gust of motherhood
and the connection to art
and poetry and the soul of

1:11 PM  
Blogger b/sistersshoes said...

Happy Harvest sweetie
keep safe
XXX Darlene

4:57 PM  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

tears, tears, tears...this is truly beautiful...amazing...

5:29 PM  
Blogger rising to the challenge said...

It is so endearing how you so knowingly single out the exact needs of each of your children and match them to the literature you envisage touching their lives in the future.

Recently, a friend confessed to me that she still feels an anguish and a yearning for the needs she feels were overlooked in her childhood. She confronted her mother and got a simple explanation: 'I had to be fair to the other children. I was always fair. I always treated all of you the same." At this my friend softly replied: "Yes, but we were'nt all the same"...

And we aren't.

And it is so nice to see you dedicate yourself so fully to each one of your children and their totally different needs...

And, of course, to give them the precious gift of literature so that it too may become their companion.

6:50 PM  
Blogger deirdre said...

This made my breath catch with its beauty. What a wise mother you are with your bag of stories and words.

12:17 AM  
Blogger (Ni)mo.Ni said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious, what is the book you are reading with your ten year old? My big guy is the same age and this story sounds like something I'd like to pick up for him. He's been reading so much fantasy lately -- C.S. Lewis, Potter, Snickets -- I think some reality would do him good.

6:09 PM  

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