Day one, a crow caws to me, waking me from a fleet of sleeping seconds in the early sun. The crows are always near, no matter what the hour, and here they are again to wake me into awful dawn light. I rise from an armchair in my room, shut the window against the moans of early day, shut the curtains to the same. As I float into bed, a cold solitary bed, I listen for hours to the sounds of the outside and do not sleep.
Melancholia, some drowning in black bile, is what it is deemed, the incessant need to stay in a blanking room, only travel out to help with feeding. The pipeline guides the way, the hot hiss I hear every night walking across the cobbled street. My boy now spending each night with my mother, but not an anchor enough. She has been away for years, out of the loop, out of the ways of knowing how to properly bathe a child, let alone feed one daily. I bring what she does not have; the bowls and jars and napkins to the little white chamber, the light blinking for me.
He has always been a fragile infant, but calm, calm like a summer breeze shifting the growing corn stalks, something refreshing. And even now in the damp, quiet air he is calm during his meal, eyes blissfully closed. I wipe his tiny mouth with no fuss. I take him to the basin to wash, careful of his drooping daisy arms, so soft and white. The job is meticulous, of course, but what more do I need time for? Time is an eclipse on our bodies. On my son’s. So, I take my spell slowly. I spend my paper time on this nature of growing, the longevity of roots taking in foundation, the soft stretching of white stem into white receptacle into white petal. The nature of wiping clean, seeing his soft shine once more. “Maybe mommy will want to see you again,” I whisper to his soft ear. “Soon, it will be soon.”
Day two, the crow does not caw me awake, I am already stirring.
After I bathed and bundled my boy, the winds howled so hard through the darkness, his cries carried through with wind, driving me almost mad. I was hence forbidden to leave the house again during night by my wife, who has taken to hunting the entrance corridors, winding back and forth between doors tirelessly as a shark wandering waters for prey. All night she stayed wakeful as me.
I am however aroused out of my room by a bang against the front door followed by a short “Eeeeeeeech!” from my wife. As I run to see what is waiting at the entrance, my wife has fallen by the door, surely fainted from fright. A sad body weakness my boy inherited from her. I pull her to the chase nearby and pull open the door to find today’s paper, The Niles Star – October 6th, 1870, but the headline is foreign and unreadable. I toss it into the umbrella stand near-by, as good as any waste basket.
I set my wife in her room and leave for town to gather pots and dirt and flowers. I plant them around the white chamber for my son to smell and gaze upon all day: Cornflowers and Allium and Lenten Roses and Black-eyed Susans.
When dusk begins to fall, my wife is still resting and I am called by the hissing to the daily care. I gather the bowls and jars and napkins. I sing along the path, in harmony with the hiss of gas into the cooling night. I feed my son his meal. I wipe his tiny mouth with no fussing. I take him to the basin to wash, careful of his graying daisy arms, tenderer than before.