I am diminutive in the chill, May sunshine outside the mushroom colored tower which surges towards the morning sky. Wedged among stiff perfumed dresses, shadowed by white-gloved hands reaching out for the flowers, I shiver as though in a slow motion film and watch my mother receive a white carnation: Her mother is dead. Some day she will die too. The dilatory notes of the reluctant organ no longer sound cheerful. Sights appear as through fine ivory gauze which wraps a wound. There only remains the smell of roses, the scratchy feel of a freshly starched cotton dress, a flutter inside my belly like an itch I cannot reach.
Bodies gathered closely like a patchwork quilt: young, old, mostly white and strong. Intermittent raindrops bleed colors from homemade signs punctuating blocks of denim draped frames. Children perched on shoulders whimper or laugh as orators’ calls to disarm echo, linger, then settle on the crowd. Under the elegant shade tree, an infant suckles, undisturbed by disapproving glances of strangers on the street dressed in Sunday finery to absorb the urban experience. Off-key singing stirs the close air, words inspire, we believe we all aspire to a universal dream.
Three small heads, one white, one gold, and one a saffron color, bodies close, faces deep inside the down. Dawn just announced, sleep not yet fully departed from me, but the energy of these children already unbounded by the hour. Giggles high, so confident, so self-conscious, as if they know already that they must treasure moments which will not stay. Skin so soft, unblemished, and richly colored, each one a different tone in the morning light. One begins a song, the others join and it’s a choir. They all jump, we shriek together and he comes rushing. Coffee hot, bed covers tousled, attention fading. Cuddles, kisses, small arms clinging. A camera clicks, time cannot be packaged nor moments frozen. Too soon it’s evening, the bed is empty of children once again.
Los Angeles, Paris, Philadelphia. White carnations now for nine years or more. Still a child stands out in a sunday churchyard. Women march as ever to forge a peace. Children laugh inside the heart each day, all rough, all tumbles. Not a festival, a sentiment nor a static instant, mothering is a process of awakening to life.