Kneeling / by Christina Rosalie

I press my palms to my face. My heart feels like a small bird caught in the high wires. Tonight, optimism is ash. I am on my knees by the wood stove, adding logs watching the flames lick up the bark, and both boys are crying. Bean has a fever of 102.5 and another ear infection. Sprout is just his small sweet self, but babies cry, and dusk is his witching hour.

Bean is wailing because he wants to be touching me, next to me, snuggled on top of me. He wants tea, but it is too hot, then too cold. He wants honey in it, but not so much, but now maybe more. He is restless, edgy. There are circles under his eyes. His lashes are the color of charcoal. The circles are the color of a bruise, or a plum.

Outside it is raining. The sky is ashy and gray. Rain licks at the windows. Mud is thick on the road. The stock market is unpredictable and chaotic. The balance has become a negative number. The days are knit together with loops of worry.

Harder than parenting a newborn or a toddler, is this: being a mother to a child who has been perpetually sick all winter, in a place where winter lasts six months, relying on an income that fluctuates with the tides of an increasingly unpredictable market. Mostly, it’s his fragility that makes my heart feel flayed and anxious. His smile is lopsided and darling. His voice has become high-pitched, whiny, uncomfortable with the steady persistence of congestion, ear aches, coughs.

Even after the fire’s heat is evident and my face is flushed I linger, kneeling, whispering a silent prayer. The rain keeps falling. Night gathers in the wet branches of trees beyond the glass. Tonight there is no chin-up positive attitude. No sunny outlook. Just pure exhaustion and the simple slim hope that tomorrow will be better than today.