Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Little Ones Come

The little ones come. They range around the yard, and the invisible curtain of the shaggy edge of the grass holds them captive. Their voices are like the waves at the beach. There is an ebb and flow, regular but not rigid; the occasional roar, the sizzle of the receding push, the intermittent quiet pause before the next little assault.

They tackle one another like linebackers. The one that gets the worst of it always seems not to notice; the one that delivers the blow cries. It passes the moment the action risks beginning again without the one with the quivering lip. The only fatal sin is missing out.

A fork is a rake and a cup is a bucket; a hamburger is an ottoman. They show at the rudely made table from the eyes up only, and the evidence of their efforts are identically parsed between their interior and their exterior. Nothing is wasted if one bit of it manages to get inside them.

Their lilting, ill-formed words tinkle in the warm breeze, like a nursery rhyme sung in some sublime opera. Their gestures are as broad and expressive as anybody who has trod the music hall floorboards. They furtively search the crowd of adult faces, congregated to the side, looking for mother -- like a performer looks in the audience for the critic. They run like madmen from a doctor.

They run out of gas, long after you do, and find some niche that fits their mood and size. They sleep the sleep of physical exhaustion and mental freshness. The difference between eyes open and shut is tiny. Everything is wonderful.

Why do I love them all so? I don't know. Do you?

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