i get a call from the reservation, it is cold there. conversations with native americans are short on words, filled with lots of spaces. they got the money i sent for christmas and now they are going to buy a present for the mom, the matriarch. i can hear the rumble of the engine and can see the beat up truck driving through the desolate, flat winter prairie, the crunch of the tires on the frozen earth, the steam rising from the heat of the engine hitting the frigid grey air. i can see all these things even though i have only been there in summer. in the summertime, wild, yellow sunflowers grow on the side of the road as tall as me and they say that as high as the sunflowers are in summertime, that's how high the snow will be in winter. joy and pain. i go to the reservation because i pray to the spirits to help me heal my family.
my son walks out the door after our visit. i hand him money for a bus to get downtown and a twenty and say, "merry christmas, don't say i never did anything for you". he laughs, we hug and he walks out the door. i feel a pang in my stomach, an emptiness. maybe in the same place he grew inside me. in that emptiness, i feel an excitement. the wheel turns and things will never be the same. i see his dark skin and punker jacket walking away through the blinds of my window and he grows smaller and smaller until he disappears. he is a man now. i see his youth like a flame making it's way in the world.
she sits somewhere, is she alone? is she alone on christmas? i picture a woman with a face like mine, more softened by time, i picture her staring out a window. i picture light on her face, such a beautiful face of sharp white skin framed by black hair. she used to say when we would argue that she would be dead someday and i would regret not getting along with her. she made me fear the ravages of time on a woman's desirability and beauty. but these were her fears, not mine, and i learned to cut them out with a knife when i was in istanbul with my teacher. the fear of becoming an old woman, undesirable and unloved with no company left but too many pets. i used to deliver meals to homebound elderly for thanksgiving, maybe as penance for not seeing my own mother. i walked into many sad, cramped, dark apartments that smelled of decay and cat urine. i hope wherever she is, wherever she has taken herself to disappear to, i hope she is laughing and knows that i love her. we let the light in.