Or If She Is HerselfI am in the house. I can’t make out the lines on the doorway trim. I hold a light to it and study the smudged marker until I can make out the six. No, the three? No, it is a tree and we are climbing it higher until the adults come outside, and we crouch and quiet ourselves so we can hear what they are saying. No, it is my own children and they are ten of me high up the boughs and I am trusting their capabilities. I am pushing my own nervousness aside. I am shouting, “Don’t climb in shoes, you need to be able to feel your way around the tree.” No, it was nine. I can make out the marks and evidence that a child definitely stood that tall on that date and I can clean the smudge and overwrite it with itself so that it is legible.

I keep returning to find piles of things I forgot. Mounds of objects, unidentifiable, yet important and intrinsic to me. Every time there are more things; more kitschy trinkets lined up on a shelf like a museum I forgot. I am reveling in the flood of each object’s grotesqueness. The contours and colors and hidden faces of each. Or maybe it is like a picture I have never seen, and I have created a memory, curated a scene to truth.

I am back in the house and this time I cannot decipher my own things from the things of the woman who now lives there. She is next to me. She is moving as I move. Is she my shadow? She is reaching into the piles that are mine. I have come to know these objects. They have been sitting with me and telling me stories when I can’t fall asleep. I like the one where you pause from laughter and reach down and pull from you a cotton doll, red faced with a thick black head of yarn. I like the one where you stop to watch the red fox run across the front yard. I like the one where you have dug a hole to bury the dead rabbit. What do you call a baby rabbit? Is there a name? Your stories are sentient, they have begun holding my hand when I am afraid. I think they dance with me. I change rooms without moving and my things are unidentifiable, but I know they are there. I can just begin to make out what they are, but then I am in another room, then I am in another presence, then I am the shadow moving and it is her story; she is setting up her things. I had just begun to make out my lamp; I was going to turn it on, but it has gone and there is nothing I recognize, and the woman is back, and she is asking me what my purpose is. I am out of place. I must leave this story—it is her story.

When we left it was in a hurry. The electricity had been shut off earlier than anticipated. It takes thirteen years to remove thirteen years’ worth of things. The day we leave we move around the sun thirteen times. I am dizzy from the centrifugal force of such movement. I am unable to see well in the basement. I am shining my flashlight. I am certain I left the box with my mosaic tiles. I think if you look inside it was big enough to climb into. You see, I had been keeping pieces of broken plates and glasses and there was a way to grow un-angry at broken things when I was going to doctor them into their own new thing as if I was Frankenstein and the art my monster, its shoulder, thorax, and spine, all of its parts in the box. I cannot find the box no matter where I put my flashlight.

We have planted trees that grow from the ground like a time-lapse video of a stem emerging or a flower blooming. Life was like a thousand pictures of a fern tendril unfurling, I told my children, but you see all of the pictures at once. We are sitting in the middle of the coneflowers. There is a black cloud looming above us, but the flowers have grown, or we have shrunk, and they are making a roof over our heads and we never notice the storm.

I sit with a belly full of a child and I’m in a bathing suit. My children have flooded a dirt pile with hose water. They are making a paste and covering me with the earth that has sat with this house for 100 years. We have lived here for 100 years. Or have we become the hundred years that it has stood? I stand, covered in the clay and mud, and pull a child from my body and we anoint it with the dirt and we sit and watch my center grow, again, until it is full and from me blooms another round face. We join hands and orbit the house until we begin to grow so big the house tries to orbit us.

I am back on the inside. I am baking something in the oven. The woman is gone. I am sure I am baking something sweet, but I can’t remember doing so. Maybe it was she who has put the pinecones and clocks, the spoons and seeds, storms, smiles, the naked children, the learning to walk, and the lovemaking into the glowing light of the oven. I am not sure if I am she or if she is herself. I have come for the bread, but the bread is too heavy to lift. Each time I try, it grows denser and it, too, is creating its own gravitation pull. I am sure that if I stop visiting this place I will begin to forget the sound of its voice. I am beginning to feel frantic; I am beginning to worry that I will never recognize the things which are mine. I am there with extra boxes trying to put everything inside, only there is a pinhole in the bottoms, and every time I put something into them, the hole grows bigger. These are mine now. The woman is back. I have tried to take out the doorframe with our markings, but it won’t budge. I have tried to scrape our memories from the walls. I am afraid of her. She grows bigger each time I see her. It is called a kit. She tells me. A baby rabbit is called a kit.

Photo used under CC.