Eleanor sleeps. Almost two months old. A sweet weight on my chest. She was a what-if. A wonder-what-she’ll-look-like. A she’ll-be-so-cute-in-this-onesie. Now she’s here. Has my sister’s square head and wails. My lord, she can wail.
I will never forget it—please don’t let me forget it. Write it here so I don’t forget it: In her rocker, my arms pretzled around her so she can’t wiggle with the wail. And she howls even when I rock and I start singing. Nonsense I made up when she was born—a whole two months ago but it feels like a lifetime cause the miles stretch the minutes like they stretch my heart until it breaks for wanting to hold her to get to her to rock her to sing her: She is Eleanor, beautiful Eleanor, strong little Eleanor, brave little Eleanor. She is Eleanor. Sweet Eleanor. Sweetest Eleanor alive.
Her wail shivers. Stutters. Pauses. And I sing her again, loud enough to catch her ear, soft enough to make that pause stretch. She listens and she whimpers and we rock and she soothes. For me. Aunt Say. Who’s sung her more times than I can count, eyes closed and all the truth I can in the words. She is Eleanor. Beautiful. Strong. Brave. Sweet. I sing her. Build the truth of her into her bones, the truth of me into her heart: I love her beyond words, beyond miles, beyond time, beyond songs. The words wouldn’t matter. Change them. I would still sing her the same: my Eleanor. Beautiful. Strong. Brave. Sweet.
“Shake the Bones” presented at SCMLA / November 1, 2015 / Creative Non-Fiction