catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 24 :: 2005.12.30 — 2006.01.12


The photo project

The following images and essays are a part of the photo project, an interactive blog experiment for which the author wrote short essays to go with photos sent in by readers.

Photo by Rob Griggs

You can see it in the kid?s eyes, the mother-child dialogue, what?s left of that fluid, that amniotic exchange, floating on his eyes, filming the world, framing their relationship. One day, he will think he finally sees clearly, and he will leave.

Or so he thinks; it?s not his decision; there?s blood at work here.

For her, the mother, the pregnancy alone was dialogue, all cooing and smoothing and promise, but it was also monologue, the constant pull-tension-preparation for and between ?hello? and ?goodbye.? Then the final push, the exhalation, at once both ?hello, child? and, in foresight, ?goodbye child,? and inevitably, at some point, either ?don?t stray too far? or ?if you?re gonna go, then go.? This is for his sake alone?she is his mother, she knows better, her body tells her secrets. That blood, that bond, stays with her, will never say goodbye. To put it scientifically, if we must, some of that child?s fetal cells get ideas, get a head start, begin to stray even as he shifts in her womb. One day he leaves that home (and it feels a small death), but those cells don?t. They remain. That child, though he say a million goodbyes, stays always with her, will never stop speaking. And not that child only, but the child, too, who never left that first home, whose lips stilled before they tasted the outside world. 20 years later, the birthday due but never delivered, the birthday without presents, she cries because he still speaks and she can?t find words anymore. She can only say goodbye so many times. What does she do with this voice in her blood? She proclaims his death until he comes again: ?Hello, child.?

Photo by Carl Fox

If you were to plan a party for me, and if that party were to involve one or two friends and a Scrabble board and a quart or two of chocolate milk, I?d say you know me pretty well. And maybe I?d admit later that I might oughta re-think my definition of party, that I should honor those who love me with a bit more than wood tiles and dairy products.

I grew up in the suburbs. My parents used the throw parties for friends and family. We?d set up a volleyball net in the front yard. Every year, I?d watch the adults play, wanting so badly to join in, to throw my wispy body around, make that amazing play that would have them incredulous, stunned by my athletic genius. They?d clap, say how great! how special! how much they loved me.

That didn?t happen. Every year, I?d finally screw up the courage to ask, and every year, one of my friends? dads would act as if he were considering it before saying, ?Nah, maybe next year.?

I got tired of next year. I learned to quit waiting. By the time I finally became an adult, I?d lost my desire to play. When I was a child, I thought as a child, and for too many years beyond that. I?ve been an adult for a good 10 years now, and I think it?s about time to quit blaming others, get over it, and start getting? ready to party. There?s this one I?ve heard about with lots of food and liquor and, I bet, volleyball. I hear the invitations have already been sent. I?m keeping my eye on the lookout. I hope they say ?Party Adults Wanted.?

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