i know that she is growing…

In the context of Robin Black’s story ‘Gaining Ground’—in the context of serendipity or cooincidence, of insight and knowing yet not understanding, of not wanting yet being obsessed, of the death of a woman’s father on the night electricity runs in her child’s bathwater—in that context, or on its own—this is beautiful:

Because I see my father. I do see him there. I see him standing outside of that tunnel, in the dark. And I see myself at that moment dipping my beautiful naked child into her bath. I know exactly where they found him. I know the path he walked from the Place. And I know the ripples of water around her small body as she plays. I know the slight gray tinge of daily dirt that falls around her, and rings that bathtub. And I know how he got out. Which nurse had her back turned. Which orderly thought he knew that my father was tucked into bed. And I know the smell of my daughter’s shampoo. The way her ears emerge as her hair rises into lather. I know what my father was wearing, his gray wool pants I mail-ordered him last month, a white T-shirt bought by my mother God knows when, no shoes. The last time I saw him, he’d lost so much weight. His food was all poisoned, he believed. I know that. The air was growing harder for him to breathe. The air that Allison breathes. I know that he couldn’t breathe her air anymore. I know he was diminishing. I know that she is growing. The nurses were pouring toxins into his room with their words. I know the songs I sing to her as she bathes. The songs she begs me for. He wouldn’t let anyone speak around him. He had forbidden even me to speak. Every word was deadly. Every breath was painful for him.” ~ from the collection If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, by Robin Black [Random House]

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