If you could hold my heart in your hands, you’d see your fingerprints are imprinted in each vessel and chamber; you may even notice that there’s a small gaping hole there. That’s because my sad heart knows that if I held yours in return, I wouldn’t even exist.
Yet another encounter with the ambiguous female character that keeps invading my dreams. This time she presents herself as an “ancient woman” (Lilith?) that can only be summoned within a specific chamber of a labyrinthine palace (?). The chamber can be recognized by dozens of vessels or lamps set on its floor. Lilith sprouts directly from a wall as a result of some alchemical (?) manipulations of mine the particulars of which are unclear. Her body is never completely human; I have a feeling she is a homunculus conjured by the dream world/the labyrinth as a means of communication. We spend the day talking and exploring the palace; she keeps levitating slightly behind me and disappears at some point when I turn around to address her. In my dream I enter the labyrinth many times and never fail to locate the chamber and summon the ominous entity.
This study is an important record because my dream seems to have been directly inspired by a very similar vision my son had experienced the previous night. In his dream Lilith was summoned in the course of a sleep-like trance and emerged from folds of flesh covering the walls of a living maze.
Using no drawings whatsoever, ceramicist Matthew Chambers has produced a series of spherical vessels that communicate a sense of fast, kinetic movement. Using a pottery wheel, he layers over ceramic layers into one single structure… producing gorgeous results.
(Omelia baby, Maggie, Amelia, and
Richard. This is my part of a collab with a dear friend who writes the words in my heart. My other part is here. I
am in love with this future. Can I just please hold Owen and Amelia’s baby for
real? And Webber can sing behind my shoulder.)
sets its own rhythm and conducts a complexity of events that take place in a
single heartbeat. Cardiac muscle contracts. Valves open and close. And blood pumps
through convoluted chambers and vessels – flowing out to deliver oxygen and
nutrients, and returning again in a cycle that’s fluid and electric. The heart
is a masterpiece. Exercise it, and it grows.
I was 6
years old when I learned that the heart has 4 chambers – 2 atria and 2
ventricles – neat compartments with a predictable flow. Like my family then. I
imagined there was a room for each of us – my mom, my dad, and me. But the fourth
chamber was a mystery. Some kids who are adopted feel that a piece of them is
missing. I never felt that way. I always pictured someone in the fourth room of
my heart, pumping the blood of my life, like the rest of us. I just didn’t know
who it was that lived there – who had come before and who else might fill that
space in my heart someday.
As soon as I
step out of the OR, I hear the news. The corridor is abuzz with talk about Amelia’s
baby. Arizona flits in my direction like a bumble bee, the annoying kind that a
person generally wants to swat before it stings them. But this pollen she
spreads right now is so sweet that I just watch her dance from flower to flower.
She pauses beside me and sings, “It’s a girl! A healthy baby girl.” She gives
my shoulder a squeeze.
I smile with
her, and the rhythm of my heart joins her in this dance – but I keep my feet on
the ground. One bumble bee is enough. “When?!” I ask her.
“A few hours
ago. I wanted to tell you from the gallery, but Amelia said, “Don’t announce my
baby’s birth over an intercom. She’s not a grocery store special.” And Owen
said, “No distractions in the ER either. Everyone will find out about her soon
I feel a
sudden flash of envy for the time that passed between then and now – those
precious newborn hours. But the envy quickly goes as I make a picture in my
mind of this precious family. “How’s Amelia doing? How was the birth? What’s
the baby like? Is she nursing yet?” I ask Arizona everything at once, falling
into my habit of talking too much when I’m nervous. I’m not sure why I feel
nervous, but I do.
great…” She pauses. Then she opens her mouth as if to say more, but closes it
again before adding, “She said, ‘No spoilers.’ You have to go see for
yourself.” She winks.
tell her, “I’ll go as soon as I update my patient’s family and check on him in
is closing now in OR 2. I’m going to go tell him next,” Arizona says as she
squeezes my shoulder again. Then all I see is the back of her yellow head buzzing
words from yesterday flash through my mind, ‘You are my sister and this baby’s
aunt,’ she’d said. And it occurs to me that I’m an aunt again! I catch myself
smiling so big that I put my hands to my cheeks to relax the muscles. My
patient has a long road to recovery, and his family would probably appreciate me
not looking quite so delighted as I go now to give them their news.
monitors my patient in recovery, so I can clean myself up and go meet my niece.
Now I stand in the corridor outside Amelia’s room, and I’m nervous again. I
wipe my hands on my scrubs. As quietly possible, I open the door. I peer
inside and see Amelia lying on the bed. I wonder for a moment if she’s asleep.
Then she turns her head toward me and smiles. When I see the dimple on her
cheek, I know everything is good. I know she’s happy. I feel some tears in my
eyes, and I blink them away.
heard I got a new niece today,” I say softly, closing the door behind me.
Amelia’s eyes shine as she jokes with me about her long labor. Her hair is damp
from a shower and pulled back loosely into a pony tail. She wears a plaid
flannel shirt that buttons down the front – probably one of Owen’s. She sits up
as I move toward the bed. She is beautiful, glowing. I want to hug her, but I
wonder where she might be sore from labor. So I fluff her pillows instead. As I
do, my eyes are drawn to the pink bundle beside her on the bed.
catches in my throat to see her here, in a tiny onesie and hat. “There she is,”
I whisper, completely enchanted. Amelia says I can hold her, so I scoop her up
gently, taking care to support her head. Her eyes are closed in sleep, and her
lashes curl against her rosy cheeks. I cradle her in the crook of my arm – and
I fall in love. Just like that. “She is so pretty, Amelia,” I say.
moves her arm, and I take her hand between my thumb and fingers. Her own fingers
wrap around mine. Hers are long and thin with crescent moons at their tips. A
surgeon’s hands – if she chooses to make them so – someday. She has a whole
life before her to hold, but just for this moment her hand is holding mine.
toward us and caresses her baby’s head. She carefully removes the pink hat to
reveal downy hair that’s red and gold, like strawberries and sunshine. “Ohh!
Ginger!” I laugh as it occurs to me for the first time since I stepped in this
room that she is Owen’s baby too. The baby yawns, and I rock her back and
forth. “It’s so weird,” I say to Amelia, “…So weird that you and Hunt had sex!”
starts to tell me about all the sex they have. If I wasn’t holding this
precious baby, I would be plugging my ears and singing, ‘La la la I can’t hear
you!!’ As soon as she mentions Owen’s huge…, I have to cut her off. She leans
back against the pillows and tells me I would change my mind if I saw him
naked. If I wasn’t holding this baby, I would wish for the floor to swallow me
up. Because now I am picturing Owen Hunt naked. Mortification sets in as the door
starts to open. I hold my breath, nervous that he will walk through that
doorway while I’m still picturing him naked. But the universe is kind to me in
this moment, and the person who walks in is Richard. Amelia raises an eyebrow at
me and smirks. Thankfully the torture of this conversation is over.
“Oh look at
that!” Richard says, “All my girls are here.” He gives Amelia a vase of pink
lilies. Some are already open and others are waiting to bloom. He wishes her
congratulations from him and Catherine and asks how she’s doing. He peers over
my shoulder at the baby. Her little mouth moves as she sleeps, nursing the air
in her dreams. He touches her hair and says she got some of her father’s genes. I think for a moment about Richard and me. I can’t help but wonder if it
would have been like that if he’d known about me back then.
and the baby opens her eyes, alert to the deep sound of his voice. “Ohh hi
pretty girl…” he says.
I ask him if
he wants to hold her, and he politely declines. Then he adds, “You look good
though holding her.” I smile to hear him say it.
He sits on the bed, and talks
to Amelia about possible names for the baby. I hear them talking, and I laugh
when they laugh. But I only have eyes for this baby in my arms – whose eyes are
open now, looking back at me, seeing me for the first time.
little one,” I whisper softly, “I’m your Aunt Maggie.” Her eyes hold that
newborn mystery. They’re deep, and dark blue for now. Their final color will
reveal itself soon enough – likely a shade of blue somewhere in between the sea
and the sky. She holds me with those eyes. “I already love you,” I murmur, just between her and me. Her little body is warm in my
arms, but her toes feel cool against my skin, so I hold her feet in my hand. I
remember these same tiny feet were inside Amelia’s belly just yesterday. And
now here she is on the outside, meeting the world.
Amelia say to Richard, “You are her grandpa. A lopsided grandpa, but still… she
has no grandpas. And you have no grandkids yet…” She looks at me and adds, “Well,
not until Maggs here gives you some.” I glance at Richard, and his eyes meet mine
at the same time. We share the same eyes. I don’t always notice, but I feel it
now. He clears his throat and his mouth turns up in a smile. The look on his
face tells me he feels it too. Amelia apologizes for not filtering, but I don’t
mind the comment. It feels alright in me, peaceful even.
Amelia not to worry about it. “She can be my twisted granddaughter.” He winks,
and I laugh.
grandpa’ sounds like a creeper who hangs out at the park!” I tell him, “’Lopsided
grandpa’ sounds less creepy.”
“Okay. Lopsided grandpa it is then.” He rises from the bed to stand beside me. I
see myself in him. I usually don’t look too hard. It feels so personal. But I
look now. I see myself in the lines on his cheeks when he smiles at the baby.
His smile is mine – or mine is his. Richard is the kind of person who stays. He
stayed with Adele. He sticks. Historically, I haven’t done that too often. I’ve
burned a lot of bridges and kept on going – driving fast to accomplish as much
as I can in the time that I have. Until recently I haven’t been so great at
living as much as I can, in people, and staying there. But I’m figuring out how to
do it now.
hand holds the baby’s little arm. The sun is shining on her face. Her eyes
squint, and he reaches to close the blinds. I think he will be a wonderful
“Who do you
think the baby looks like more?” he asks, “Hunt or Amelia?”
now,” I answer, stroking her strawberry blonde head which rests in the bend of
my elbow, “She’ll probably look more like Amelia as she grows, but babies tend
to favor their fathers at first. It’s imprinting so the father knows the baby
is his and will stick around to take care of her…” I realize I’m saying too
much. “Richard, I didn’t mean…”
trails off, and he clears his throat again. When he speaks, his voice is soft
and deep. “You have the same cheekbones as Ellis. I see it when you smile.
There was a time when she smiled a lot. You have her eyebrows too. I notice
the similarity when you’re concentrating during surgery and when you’re
celebrating a good outcome. I see it right now when you look at this baby.”
to me that he still loves Ellis, after all these years. I hear it in the catch of his breath when he says her name.
he hesitates, “I sure would have liked to have seen you as a baby. …I’d go back
in time for it …if I could.” The emotion is a lot for me to take in, so
I turn my gaze to the baby. It’s easier that way.
travel is possible,” I say to lighten the mood, “That was 1983. So all we have
to do is play the Thriller album and listen to Michael Jackson and Paul
McCartney sing while we look at old photos. My mom shipped me a box full of
them before she moved to Hawaii. She was probably worried that my dad would
leave them out in the rain or something. He can be a bit eccentric.”
clears his throat again when I mention my dad. I wonder if a day will come when
there won’t be this awkwardness between us. Still, I know time is creating an
ease. He’s more now than just a kind stranger who fathered me. He’s no longer a
stranger. He’s a friend – Amelia’s friend – and he’s my friend too. A friend
who gave me his smile and whose eyes are a mirror for my own. A friend who teaches me things without
intention – just by being here. A friend who sticks. It warms me inside to
think that if I have kids someday, they will probably call him ‘Grandpa’
I look at
Amelia. Thin strips of late afternoon sun peek through the blinds and fall across
her face. She’s asleep. I dare a glance now at Richard. The baby yawns, and he
sings to her in a near whisper,
“…The girl is mine, (mine mine) yep she’s mine
Don’t waste your time
Because the doggone girl is mine…”
He gives her
a smile that tilts a bit to the right – a lopsided smile from her
lopsided grandpa. A perfect moment in this convoluted family. This baby is less
than a day old, and already the chambers of her heart are full. Mine are too.
And I know who lives there – in that fourth room.
That is what I would sing to her, when we kissed,
Humming the words against her lips
Til she would have to break the bond and giggle…
She said she could feel the tone, the vibrations down to her feet,
Passing through all the wonderful places inside her along the way,
Til her whole body became those silly words, over and over,
Echoing from vessels and chambers, through tubes and tendons,
Bringing her alive, awake and desirous…
She said if she closed her eyes then she could almost see us there,
Lying on the dusty red sands of that world,
Pink sky above us lit by a smaller Sun, and dotted with stars and moons,
See us making love with the dirt of the War-God’s world sticking to our skin
Like a second coating, secreting us from chill, whispering winds
That blow through our kisses and sexual embraces….
And her giggles would fade to a dreamy smile,
To a stare that would cause me to lose my place
As I fell into those eyes like the pull of eternity…
And I would have to kiss her once again,
Just to feel the warmth of her lips
As I sing those words again down into her mouth…
“I took her to Mars, to show her some stars….”
(… a very old poem from my first book back in 2003…)