“Why did you put the baby in the fire?”
For a moment the eyes of the woman, the old woman, in the bed, my mother, opened wide. There was in them … something. I was unsure. Anger. Astonishment. Or only … a remembering. A quiet remembering.
They narrowed again. Returning, to their usual size. The tight size, narrow size of someone who is so advanced in years, and has been for many years suffering.
The wind moved the leaves. Leaves speak. More, than we speak. So very much more.
I had crawled around the corner, and seen her. Placing … the baby, the silent baby, in a white cloth. And then…. So gently. She had not seen me.
She breathed, deeply. With such difficulty. She turned her head, towards me. It lay flat on the pillow. The bones of her cheek projecting. Laying, a long while, in silence. Then moving, a very little:
“What else,” she said so softly, closing, her eyes, “could I have done?”
The wind, in the leaves, and her breathing … were the same. Her shaking, breathing.
I said nothing.
For there was nothing, to say.