Thursday, March 1, 2012

Scenes from the Green Line

Coming through the Loop in one of those midday rush hours that sometimes hits the Green Line. Suddenly our car falls silent and we're listening to a father explain how birds can't burp, so they can't eat anything with air in it.

Sun falls in slants along the car and we wait, for a moment as rapt and open as his two girls.

"You mean like pop?" the older one asks. She's maybe seven? Children's ages are hard to pin down. She's wearing some kind of generic shirt with sparkly letters on front. Sagging striped leggings. The younger one balances, bloblike, on his lap.

"Yeah, just like that."

"They can't burp?" She's suspicious.

"Yeah, so no gas. Or else they'll die."

She gets quiet, folded into herself a little, hands clenched in her lap. We hold our breath. He goes on, careful, casually. "I had a bird once, a parrot. His name was George."

"George?” the eldest says.


“Well that's not a very birdlike name!”

"It's not?"

"I wouldn’t call it George. I would call it...Birdy!"

And there it was. In the decisiveness of her tone and the childishness of her answer and the way he pulled her in with one arm. Their entire future. We sort of relaxed our attention, turning back to books and ipods and city outside, knowing that he would never get tired of her. Never stop giving his tenderness and time, because she needed them. That between them there was this indelible love, because she was the same as him, an ambulatory part of him.

"Mbababaa," the littler one said.

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