where the writers are

For two days you've been sick, my little one.  When at first the spots appeared they formed small clusters, tiny maps of countries, random speckles of red that gradually grew to cover your skin.  Now they are like large continents flowing into one another until a massive fiery planet covers your body, your face.  You are submerged by illness.

Just two days ago I hunted down a doctor and struggled through the June throng in a golden setting sun seeking our salvation, clasping a piece of paper with a formule scribbled on it for you. 

''I don't like giving him antibiotics,'' I said, but the pharmacist just looked and said dismissively,

''your child is very sick.''

Now I spooon something into you that I can't even pronounce and tell you, mmm, mint, thick creamy mint.  You take it. Trusting. Anxious. Obedient. Your furnace burns on.  I feel your forehead by running my lips back and forth against your skin.  It burns. It cools. It burns again. 




I think about the lofty conversations I had about immunisation.  About choice.  How definite I was.  How right.  ''For sure, it's all about choice,'' I said, aloud, right there in front of you, small man''.

Poor baby.  I stand in the doorway and watch.  You sit on the couch in the afternoon.  The curtains block out the sunshine.  Outside the thud of your brother's basketball is audible.  You seem hunched over, almost a hundred years old, wrapped in an old blanket I bought in Mexico.

Oh, it was a long time ago when I walked across the bridge spanning the Rio Grande after a day's outing. My face, one in a sea of people.  The novelty of it! I had that blanket, a bottle of Cuervo Gold and a bell.  A clay bell.  How can a bell be made of clay? Bells should be light, glassy, airy things.  It must have been the bird, a dove, engraved into the surface that caught my eye.  Attracted me to it..  Soarng upward toward the sky.  Some poor soul must have made it, in the back room of a miserable little shop, and yet, at the time all I could think about was how primitve and authentic my clay bell way, how good it would look in my home.  And for so few pesetas, a bargain!

The river ran fast that day, little man.  It swirled and eddied under the gridded bridge and threw brown froth all along its bank.  The two boys below were a little older than you, though not by much.  I watched them as they clambered aboard the makeshift raft, their brown flawless skin wet from the water, their feet bare.  I saw a man directing them, beckoning, urging them onto the small boat.

I wanted to call out to them, ''where's your mother, what about your mother?'' But I stayed silent, pushed along by the steady stream of people with their pinatas and ponchos and tequilas.  If they had crossed the river to the other side there would have been the barbed wire, long coils of spiked wire that would surely have torn into their sallow skin.  Stopping them.  Immigration. 



All Words.

There, my small pustulated child.  It's time to sleep.  Hush now. I'll find that bell.  I know it is stowed away, perhaps lying silent in the attic.  I'll find it.  I'll take it out and hang it in the window and we will listen for its gentle tinkle of clay and we will let it ring, its ringing, over and over and over again.