In a matter of time,
I will tell my daughter she isn’t mine (once she can understand, of course); I will tell her that she is an overture, a hand offering, from a humble universe, and whenever she feels small, I will tell her that she is small;
I will show her things to scale so that she never feels too great, but tiny and insulated, by galaxies, Earth, animals and flora; she will be warm. Her hands will be cold and nervous. She will ask me if she’s special, if she’s unique, and I will tell her “Yes, here is proof of it. The probability of you is precious. It isn’t made of matter. But, put it in your pocket, hold it like a chick, and show it to no one. And she will ask “why not?” and I will say, “Good, keep questioning.”
When she trips, I will pick her up – the fall is painful enough, never mind the getting-back-up: scuffs on her pants; rickety legs; a wet face, blotchy and red. She is just beginning to learn of shame, and I am just beginning to try, unsuccessfully, to resolve it for her.
She will be grounded, but, predisposed to cynicism. First, she will be exuberant and glad. I will watch her and clear my throat like my mom always did when nervous; my eyes will travel around her body drawing a clear shield. At some point, she will question that body. “Stop questioning,” I will say then, much later – not quite yet.
At a certain point, she will come home from school and ask me, “What’s matter?” and I will say, “nothing and everything,” while wiping dust from my eye, drawing a circle in the air with the palm of my hand. Her eyes will attach to the motion.
I will blink a very long blink before changing out of my nightgown. She will have gone to high school and learned subtleties like half-smiles. She will have developed self-doubt. Her thighs and breasts will have honeycomb tissue. She will test out nodding her head and saying “mmhmm” while on the telephone, and eventually it will sink in. I will say something is important, crucial even, in an erudite way while she’s in a sour mood – a mistake on my part – and she will say, “what does it matter?”
She will put honey in her tea and ask me if I would like another cup when I visit her apartment. I will feel like a guest in her home, and I will ask her where her spoons are. “We must go over these important matters,” she will say in a British accent, with a wry smile. Sarcasm will suit her. She’ll start teaching me things. She will be sure of everything but herself. Her sarcasm will have softened into a knowing carelessness, and I will admire her. At this point in time she will have been questioning her body, also asking too many questions about existential matters.
One day, I will find her in bed with the curtains drawn. In her eyes, I will see that the Earth had taken a considerable toll. The life insulating her will have thinned. People and things will have hung on by a velvet petal and she will find it romantic but devastating. There will be no such color or word as “black;” there will be space and no language and no fossils. She will tell me, “everything is the matter” with her palms wiping the air, her eyes rolling backwards to dam up the waterway. In her eyes, she will see not even an echo or a specter of matter. My arms squeezed tight, and my voice, with all softness and concern, will never resolve that emptiness for her.
Someone or something will hold her upright. There will be more scuffs on her pants; rickety legs; a wet face, blotchy and red. They will gaze into her eyes and they will add to the proof of her probability that rests in her pocket:
“What’s matter?” they will say, and she will say, “nothing and everything,” while wiping particles from her eye, drawing a circle in the air with the palm of her hand.
They will tug on her pant pocket and ask to be held. “I can’t right now, honey,” she will say, and their bottomless pit of need will consume them. They will sob. “But here, hold this,” my daughter will say, and she will pull a stone out of her pocket and place it in their curious hand. “This is a very important job. This rock, flown from the universe, told me to tell you: ‘you matter.’”
Insulated by galaxies, Earth, animals and flora, they will dutifully carry a collection with considerable weight, wedded to all that is real.