fragile skin and know it for the rose-leaf softness that invites a finger’s
touch. But when you live with them and love them, you feel the softness going
inward, the round-cheeked flesh wobbly as custard, the boneless splay of the
tiny hands. Their joints are melted rubber, and even when you kiss them hard,
in the passion of loving their existence, your lips sink down and seem never to
find bone. Holding them against you, they melt and mold, as though they might
at any moment flow back into your body.
within each child. That thing that says “I am,” and forms the core of
upright, skull wide and solid, a helmet protecting the softness within. And
“I am” grows, too. Looking at them, you can almost see it, sturdy as
heartwood, glowing through the translucent flesh.
fixed at seven. The process of encapsulation goes on, to reach its peak in the
glossy shell of adolescence, when all softness then is hidden under the
nacreous layers of the multiple new personalities that teenagers try on to
one finds and fixes the facets of the soul, until “I am” is set,
delicate and detailed as an insect in amber.