The baby woke up crying, and would not be consoled with milk; he did not need new pants; he only wanted to be held. Often he’ll just go back to sleep in my arms, but tonight he only wanted to look around in the quiet light of a twenty watt bulb, seeing things he knows as though he was just meeting them. His face seemed to change, and he looked to be not fifteen months but perhaps fifteen years. Then for a moment his eyes looked old, perhaps not one but fifty-four. Is this a glimpse of the future? Is this a flash of the past? Is this my dad going around again? Are you passing through for just a moment? Passing through from some other moment? Might you stay a while? Are you looking for something familiar? Look, here, it’s daddy. Look, here, it’s your son.

A forever few minutes later, I returned him to his bed; he cried in protest for a minute, and was back to being a baby, back to being my baby. The break in time closed, and I shook it off. Of course he is my father’s grandson, and something lives on: look at the crinkle of his ears, the lack of hair, the awe-inspiring stubbornness. Traits like that only grow on family trees.


This was published on 26 Jul 2007.
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