The Reason for Rocking Chairs
We sat on the splintered porch, my grandfather’s porch first now it was mine. My new baby girl slept like a hot stone on my chest, her tiny fingers wrapped tight around the chain I wore at my neck, like a mountain climber with a lifeline, hanging on just in case. I was gray with exhaustion, my brain soft, the colors of spring too bright after so many broken nights. New motherhood, like old motherhood, works every shift.
My mother sat quiet beside me, pleasant and easy in each other’s company, and we rocked. She had grown up in this house, this house of her father and mother, her mother most beloved, long-worshipped who had died when my mother was my age, when I was just a baby. I did not remember when she was alive, had always lived with the hole of her.
It was my house now, which made everything “meaningful”, but life is generally “meaningful” so we avoided pointing it out, saying the thing out loud. Instead we chose silence and the gentle movement of our chairs. A creak in the half-broken maple, a bird noisily taking wing through the branches, a car grinding gears down the busy street. My mother smiled to herself and watched me, rocking my baby, my girl with my grandmother’s name and she sent her words out on the wind, “I was sitting right there when mama told me she had cancer.”
There are strings wound round you heart and your body moves when they are plucked. I said nothing in return. We gathered our daughters to ourselves and we rocked.