When I was a very young girl – maybe four – and lived in New Mexico, my parents visited friends in Ames, Iowa. In the murky way of memory, mostly what I remember is the house we stayed in had hardwood floors, and Iowa seemed to possess an infinite sprawl of gorgeous lawn. The friends had kids of their own, and their father sprayed us on the lawn one afternoon, raising and lowering the spray while we pretended we were flowers opening our blossoms in the morning light, and folding closed again with twilight. For a desert child, the abundance of water and the sweet scent of cut grass was magical.
Today, our front door will be swapped out with a new, tighter door to keep the cold out, not if but when the bitter cold arrives.
My daughters had lived in our former house all their lives – a combined total of 30 years – but already in these months, this house has changed its shape with us: the scent of freshly coated floors wafted through open windows, paintings of flowers hammered on plaster walls, kittens shedding their fuzzy hair over the kitchen floor.
The house I visited as a little girl held more than its portion of misery, but from a knee-high vantage, there was sunlight and laughter, too.
Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It’s all
over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,
your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It’s dusk. Your daughter’s tall.
A Little Tooth by Thomas Lux