How It BeginsThat Spring when my parents bodies were still pristineand the sex so new that each time they were dazed,grinning like kids holding sparklers in the dark--can she recall that giving in, knees first,the ground folding beneath her, how only thenshe began to know fear, that it tallies up beat for beatwith love and the world can betray us because we finallywant something for it? For her it was the do-goodersalways claiming the most common things will kill us--furnace pipes asbestos-wrapped, pesticide-sprayed grapes,even tap water radiated. And she began to wash her hands,trying to keep clean, to risk nothing; she became a genius.inventing the patterned travel of germs, from hand to mouthto vital organ and the lazy swirling ones that love to lingerin towels and sink drains, how detergent itself was lethal.She scrubbed for us, each plate and spoon, her handscracked and bleeding; she boiled and boiled our meat.I've decided it is a sweetness no one deserves, her lovefor us grown too large, like the oversized heart ever-expandingto compensate for one weak murmuring valve,and the weakness too is love, a constant falling.
From her book This Country of Mothers.
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