It's quiet. My thoughts tiptoe around the room on silent bare feet, nosing into all the corners, avoiding all the cobwebs. I follow them with my eyes.
It's dim. The curtains are drawn against the afternoon sun but it barges through the unmet seam and prints streaks across the ceiling. Shhhhhh, I whisper to the light. She's falling asleep. The baby rests her palm against my breast.
The shadows suck the life out of these spring colored walls. But the muted light illuminates a subtle topography and I can see subterranean things. Like strokes of drywall mudding and a hint of the studs behind it all, holding everything up. My eyes stop here. I close them. I don't have to speak incantations to conjure something up.
Two carpenters hammer this wall into being. One crouches low, cursing under his breath about nothing he wants to explain to me right now. Sweat darkens his shirt between his shoulder blades and I can see the outline of his wallet sunk in his back pocket. The other man works a lump of tobacco in his mouth, moving it to the other side of his jaw. He spits into the framework, staining the wood. He grips the board in front of him and looks up at the sun, estimating its progress. He's thinking about lunch. I wonder how much piss they built into these walls.
The baby's suckling slows and stops. She closes her lips. I'm not quite ready to put her down.
The air conditioning kicks on, changing the caliber of silence in the room. The curtains react to the moving air. My thoughts do, too.
I wonder what it was like for her, living here alone for forty-some years. Where did she place her potted plants? Against which wall did she sleep? Her skin cells are still in our duct work. Maybe her ghost drifts through sometimes, too.
I trace my thumb lightly across the baby's forehead and rest it between her eyes. I imagine an invisible fingerprint. She sighs in her sleep but does not wake.