Ordinary Magic

In the years before I went everywhere invisible, I made ordinary magic in kitchens, unspooled my laughter in living rooms like lace, the sound of our voices, a music overlapping.

In the years before I was jigsaw some men wanted to fit their fingers to, before I was lonely framed in window, like some Edward Hopper woman, I leaned into summer afternoons and the certainty of being seen, him a kind of sunlight I never knew I had needed to grow.

5 years after his death when our son asks what he had sounded like I will have only 41 seconds and 4 barely heard words to give him, the man mostly off-camera except for his legs, the boy taking his first steps in Batman bib and cape, smiling as he falls, know that in time I will lose his voice the same way I lose the dead brother’s, how I won’t know the precise moment it tips from memory into something imagined.

The boy made a patchwork of my belly with his birth, made it all stripes and something soft, and because I think this the only kind of love I understand now, when one night a man lays his head there and tells me he likes the shape of me, then repeats it as though I hadn’t heard, I will know that we are lying to each other because the dark makes that easy, unlike that sunlight in which the first man had embraced me, all my flaws on display, that hard edge of me, some bone given up and still hurting, all my softer corners too.

When my son asks me for his father’s voice I will play the video on repeat, 41 seconds over and over again. The boy will laugh–at himself, at me, shaking with laughter as I held the camera, at his father’s legs. He will laugh and count those 41 seconds as joy. But I when I watch those seconds, I will wonder if someday, like his father’s voice, this too will be a thing I forget, the surety of those years in which I was loved, the same way I am sure, two years in, that the new one doesn’t. Doesn’t think of me as future. Doesn’t call me home.

If I will forget how it had been to be loved.

Such ordinary magic.

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