I say, I try to say: I didn't understand, I didn't grow up. I didn't know how much...
Wet are my hands, my arms, my cheeks and my chin, all kinds of wet: fresh ropey wet from my nose like a river from my skull; slow wet from the corner of my mouth, my lip; endless wet from my eyes, alongside my nose, my lashes; sticky, old wet on my sleeve, in my lap.
"Please." I say, and I say: "please please please."
I get up and take two steps and try to say "Please. Come home. Come back." I want a new one, a new thing to say; "come home, come back" is tired now, makes my neck stiff to nod and rock and say "come home" so much. I fear my grief is fading, and an hour into this? that much? is still not enough.
But I say "my baby" and I can barely croak it out and I am back in the deep torn muscle of loss again; more pain than I knew was possible; I want to see my 3 month old baby in my cupped and empty hands, I want to feel her there, and I want to feel how she isn't, I need to feel all of this or die, feel it all the way until I am empty and with every breath I scrape up more tons, more of the calcified and swollen nothing that is my wife and child, gone.
The front door is open. At some point I left it that way. I kept going to the door and opening it and finally I sink to the wall wailing into my hands, my eyes open, the walkway outside orange in the streetlight. At some point I put my fingers in my mouth, try to change, cry less.
Now I pace, three or four steps at a time I take, from her crib up the hall, through the rooms, to the door again. There is part of me thinking about this: about my neighbors in the apartments around me, who might come see what's wrong but never do; about the day to come, waking up alone; not yet 21 and I lost my family. About my wife's mother and what they are discussing now, over tea at one a.m,. planning their new lives, and even I think this -- in a still place inside, that smart guy me, sitting there, alone -- I can feel how good this feels, to be in more pain than can be endured, Great Pain, terrible and epic pain.
My baby, I try to say and my thoughts are washed in it, my ribs are cracked steel, my hands, my face swaddled in wet, my mouth is open and will never close.
Piles of tissues sit in three rooms. Time passes. My breath slows. I will not do this again, after tonight. I feel what my life will be like now and cry again. My breath slows. I try to say: I didn't know, I didn't see, and cry again.
My breath slows. I take off my shirt and swath my face and hands but now I don't want to be dry, wrong to be dry and here now I lose it all, all words and pleasure, all Great Pain and crybaby ideas and I howl without sound until my jaw locks and clicks and my shirt tears to pieces in my hands.
A whole other life goes by, not words, just love itself, gone; aged solace and her face every day, all gone: just dervishes under the eaves of my heart, all that would have been, gone. I crush the skin of my head, palm the the flesh of my face. I cannot move or stand.
I come to. I notice my quick breaths and the long pauses between them. My teeth hurt; my fingers itch.
"My baby is gone," I say, and it is simply so.