nobody tells you how it’s going to feel

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

They might try, but then one morning you’re there working. Your computer is open. You’re writing something, emailing. Outside it’s starting to rain. There’s bird-sounds. An early Spring rain. Last night your wife washed the dolls and their clothes. You see them out there on the line, moving in the wind, the raindrops making small dark spots. You go out there, unsnap them from the clothespins. Some of the dolls are new. Some of them have been with you since your daughter was born. They’ve moved with you to three different houses, in and out of boxes,  rolling on floors, thrown at the dog, put up on shelves, slept with, lost, found later under beds or behind bookcases.  Now they’re out here in the rain. Everyone else is still asleep. It’s just you out there. You’re taking them off the clothesline. You never could’ve imagined this precise moment in your life occurring.  You never could’ve imagined how it would feel.


tocando la panza

October 14, 2010 § 4 Comments

Some things you know you’ll always remember. The way Jesi touched Lau’s panza today: lifting her shirt slowly,  her fingers circling softly, pressing in gently, saying how beautiful it was, taking time before pulling out the doppler to listen to the heartbeat to just touch and caress and feel where the head was, the back, the cola,  slowing everything down, all of us quiet there in the small bedroom following her fingers and thinking of what’s inside.


the first burial

September 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

a kind of patagonian sparrow. corn-colored feathers on its breast–the rest of its body black, its head clawed up. i’d heard thumping at the door last night, 2:30 AM, opened and saw muchacha playing with it. i’d forgotten.

now layla saying ‘look this pa’ro, look this bird.’

‘ah, muchacha killed it last night. pobre.’

‘muy lindo este pajaro.’

‘it is beautiful isn’t it? should we bury it? should i get the shovel?’


‘everything goes back to the ground you know.’


‘come with me let’s get the shovel.’

behind the house mami is putting clothes on the line.

‘papi esta ‘garando el shovel. muchacha killed a paj’ro.’

we go back around. i scoop it up slowly. the sun is on the wall, the feathers, the dry blade.

‘where should we put it? should we put it in the back where the flowers are?’

she follows me back there.

i lay the bird down by where all last year’s apples have fallen.

‘see it all goes back in the ground. just like we’ve planted everything. it all comes from the ground and goes back into the ground. ‘

i dig the hole.

‘before we put it back in, do you want to say goodbye?’


i don’t really have a name for what i believe in.

but the way she said this had it right there.

glasses of water too heavy to pick up

August 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

yesterday while mamá was at the doctor’s layla and i pretended we were eating dinner. we had woodblocks on the table as pieces of meat. we cut them apart with scissors. i couldn’t pick up the glass of water. it was too heavy. layla laughed and passed me more meat.

later we cut out cardboard and shaped surfboards for her hippo dolls. attached them with electrical tape. baby hippo was pulling rodeo flips off the side of the table.  gravity works all the same.

meanwhile, across town, mamá was at the doctor’s hearing baby’s heartbeat.

standing by the stove with her this morning. rolling up her dress a bit and grabbing her thighs in between pancake flips. a sense of possibility.

earlier layla’d helped mix the batter.

being pregnant is scarier than launching off waterfalls

August 20, 2010 § 3 Comments

this pregnancy has been so much harder. lau’s panza is so round and beautiful and good to touch, but still.

she doesn’t sleep. her tits are massively swollen and painful to touch. the midwife lives in another town.

we’re by our fucking selves.

that’s the reality.  there’s no support network around.

it’s all on the computer.

sometimes i make myself try to believe that being down in patagonia is this kind of access to something we wouldn’t get to access otherwise.

you can drink out of the rio azul.

but having a family with no other people around makes me question all of that.

those ppl that came across the plains that willa cather wrote about:  some of them lived alone and had kids with truly nobody helping them.

at some point there must’ve been a father back then who must’ve gotten up from where the newborn and his wife were there in bed. he stepped out for a second where there was nothing around but prairie and sky on all sides.

or what if it was all darkness out there?

i think it makes you a little bit crazy to be so alone there with your family.

this morning i saw the across the street neighbors’ maid leaning out the windows and cleaning them.

i thought ‘that’s what we need.’

but it’s not.

it’s so much fucking more than that.

muchas nenas

November 6, 2009 § 5 Comments

Layla and I walking Julio around the neighborhood. Layla is barefoot. Right down at ground level. She’s in the details, all of them. Julio’s leash. The brick sidewalk. Geckos scattering in front of us.

I’m up in these other details. Getting ready for the move to Argentina. Calls to Bank of America. There are all kinds of distances people make between each other. They start with their own children. Their own parents. It doesn’t matter how far away you live. It doesn’t matter if you sleep in the same bed.

“Juilo’s goin’ to Argentina,” I tell her. She knows.

“. . tina,” she says,

“Who else is going to Argentina?”

“Mami,” she says. “Papi”

“And LAYYYY-LA,” I say. I hear this last part come out in a voice that doesn’t sound how I feel. Then I say, softer, “You know what’s in Argentina?”


“There’s all kinds of rios there. And mountains. We could walk like this and maybe see a ciervo. “

We keep walking.

“You know what else there is in Argentina?” I ask.

“Muchas nenas,” she says. Lots of little girls.

“Muuuuuchas nenas,” I say. “Muchissimas nenas.” I say this and we keep walking. We’ve been broken apart these last few weeks. Mami and Papi screaming screaming. Not as many trips with her to play with nenas at the parks. I look at her hair. I’m telling her what I want and she’s telling me what she wants.

We get to the end of the sidewalk and I ask her “cross the street or go back?” Julio stands there panting.

“Go back.”

eyes changing

October 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

Looked at Layla’s eyes today and thought ‘they don’t look like a baby’s eyes anymore.’ For maybe three seconds I could actually feel us moving downstream. When this happens you remember what it looked and felt like upstream too.