You wake up hot and sticky, restless in the cloying heat. Neither of us sleep well here, at your grandmother's house. The bed is too unfamiliar, too narrow, too hard for us but most Fridays find us trying to sleep here anyway. Keeping Sabbath with our family trumps sleep.
I take you to the rocker and you nestle into the sling seeking sweet milk, the comfort of familiar scented skin, and breath, and heartbeat. Tonight it isn't enough. You fuss, you struggle against me, against the heat, against your own tired body that wants to melt into me.
We move outside into the sweet night air. It is cooler here and you stop crying. I find my way in the dark. Every star seems visible. A wooden swing is tied to one of the branches of the fruitless mulberry tree. We sit on it and gently push off, you tied tight to my chest by the sling. Your wide eyes stare into the dark night. One or two stars twinkle through the leafy dome that encircles us. Crickets and frogs sing you lullabies. Somewhere a screech owl calls and we float, suspended in the breeze.
The tree moves with our weight, swaying and rustling as though caught in an invisible storm. You rub your sleepy eyes with your fist and lay your head on my shoulder. I rest my face against your hair and breathe in the sweet cinnamon smell of your head, and swing, and breathe, and swing. A white kitten is stalking my dangling feet. She crouches, tail twitching, ready to spring. The dogs have formed a ring around us on the ground, quietly laying their bodies between us and the mystery of the night.
I hear rhythmic snoring from you grandfather's bedroom. A gift of sleep to one who finds it so elusive. You took your first breath in that room. You made your peaceful entry into quiet candlelight and warm scented water, and joy. Your roots are here. Just as surely as this tree's are.
My thighs are aching now as I balance on this narrow plank of wood. The hard corners dig into my flesh. You murmur and burp and then lay your head down once more. Sleep has at last overtaken you, but I keep swinging, willing time to stand still for just a while longer, I don't want this moment to end.