Rebirthing Mother       12345678 • [9] • 1011
Christie Logan

After Dinner

After dinner he would find his way back to the couch, and she would join him.

The children would pick the television shows unless one of his programs was on that night, and she would find a book and sit with them.

The four of them would sit in formation for hours, the television voices filtering through the background to remind her she was not alone. The laugh track was always jarring, the applause of a variety show somehow less intrusive to her. He could fall asleep to anything.

She would read her novel, conscious always of him on the other end of the couch. After a while he would lie down, his legs pulled up and away from her at the other end.

The children would talk to her, ask her questions,
present their arguments for her to arbitrate.
“Mom, where do birds go in the winter?”
“Mom, Didi got a kitten yesterday...”
“You move over!” “No, you move ...

She listened always, answered always, even when the liquid dulled her hearing and softened her speech. She focused all her hazy attention on the children, believed she didn’t give them enough.

Among the noises of the tv, and the voices of her children, a vast silence hung in her world.

She felt his exhausted presence across the couch. He was here, and calm; their life was good.

She always saved the last bit of laundry for the evening, and when she felt the panic begin to creep up her throat, she would concentrate all her remaining serenity into a soft smile, a move toward the basement, and a mumbled ‘fold the clothes.” This ritual would take her from the room, and once in the kitchen she would hasten for the stairs to the basement.

She felt adventurous during these times, held herself to a few drinks from the bottle; she had to get herself back up the stairs and to the couch. She would plan her moves so she would be settled on the couch again before her equilibrium began to fail, before she felt like she was floating in dark water.

She would fold his socks lovingly, sort the ironing for the morning.

When she began to feel herself slip behind the mists she would take a last look across the couch, to the sleeping man, and then to her children on the floor.

She loved them so, needed them more than they needed her she thought. At 9:00 she’d get the kids ready for bed, would say “now I lay me down to sleep” with them and tuck them in. If they had questions she would say only “tomorrow,” and smile serenely.


She was looking then on a different world, of almost slow motion, where music played softly and the light was always diffused. She kissed her children, said “I love you,” turned out the light.

When she walked, she used the balls of her feet
and when her heel would come down
it was a surprise to her that it had so far to go to the floor.


She walked like a flamingo in stagnant water.

He was still asleep. She took the clothes basket downstairs.

12345678 • [9] • 1011

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