The divorced mother and her divorcing daughter. The about-to-be ex-son-in-law and the ex-husband's adopted son. The divorcing daughter's child, who is the step-nephew of the ex-husband's adopted son. Everyone cordial: the ex-husband's second wife friendly to the first wife, warm to the divorcing daughter's child's great-grandmother, who was herself long ago divorced. Everyone grown used to the idea of divorce. Almost everyone has separated from the landscape of a childhood. Collections of people in cities are divorced from clean air and stars. Toddlers in day care are parted from working parents, schoolchildren from the assumption of unbloodied daylong safety. Old people die apart from all they've gathered over time, and in strange beds. Adults grow estranged from a God evidently divorced from History; most are cut off from their own histories, each of which waits like a child left at day care. What if you turned back for a moment and put your arms around yours? Yes, you might be late for work; no, your history doesn't smell sweet like a toddler's head. But look at those small round wrists, that short-legged, comical walk. Caress your history--who else will? Promise to come back later. Pay attention when it asks you simple questions: Where are we going? Is it scary? What happened? Can I have more now? Who is that?
From Bat Ode by Jeredith Merrin. Copyright © 2000 by Jeredith Merrin. Reprinted with permission by The University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.