Children Laughing

A number of years ago, we were having dinner with friends in our kitchen, laughing and talking, when suddenly one of us ordered the others to be quiet. Our friend held up his hand. I had recently laid my baby in her crib upstairs, in that rosy end-of-the-day glow. She lay there babbling her echolalia, singing away happily in her own baby world. Our friend, whose children were older then, insisted we listen. Our own clamorous adult chatting ceased, and from the open room just above, we listened to the baby’s talk.

This morning, I sat on the couch and ceased my own work for a moment. My ten-year-old daughter and her friend were whispering in the bunk bed they had slept in together, giggling and planning their day off from school. Like a brook, their laughter tumbled to me, clear and sweet.

…Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

— Pablo Neruda


Photo by Molly S.

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