A Stretchy Year

A Stretchy Year

It was a stretchy year.
It contracted, stood still, then pulled apart.
Cat’s cradle, played with an elastic band. 

It was a sticky year, but slick.
Like strips of glue on packaging, rolled between fingers,
Until only a dull ball, barely recognizable, remains.

At the end of it, my baby is gone.
Replaced with a two-year old with gumption and big ideas.
No longer milk-fed. Reaching mightily across the table for more.

My daughter, always spirited, has mellowed
Even as her face has hardened, thinned.
Angles and points where chubby cheeks once were. Glimpses of me.

My oldest, his head once just cleared my waist,
The perfect height, we joked, for my armrest.
My arm, now a wing, elbow pointing to the sky, leaving space to fly.

The days stretched and skipped, crawled and skidded.
Some days lost, folded into those before and after,
Or curled into themselves, thrown into shadow.

Some days I can hold up to the sky,
Look at them until they break into their separate parts,
Bright, translucent greens and blues and yellows.

The months, though. The year.
That’s when all the movement happened.
Invisible at the time, now so apparent.

A benevolent, relentless pull, carrying us upstream until we stop, momentarily dazed,
Searching for the blankets we left on the shore.
Then finally – There they are! – tiny spots of color, impossibly far away.