Raffie and I load up his little
yellow cart with the dirty washing and he pushes
it around the verandah to the laundry with me,
humming the way he doe , feet splayed like Charlie
Chaplin, tottering on his chubby thirteen-month-old
turn on the washing machine and let the water
run, bending down to give him a big green peg.
He smiles at me like I have just given him the
crown jewels and crawls to find the hose nozzle,
another of his jewels. A bird flits through
the trees, catching his eye. He turns, using
the clotheshorse to haul himself up, waving
his treasure for the bird to admire - standing
unsupported, a new trick. I smile and crouch
down, urging him to walk toward me and he seizes
the moment, tottering with glee, like a drunkard,
making for my outspread arms. He falls into
my embrace and wraps his arms around my neck
and we melt into one another, his head nestling
onto my shoulder, his silken crop of blond hair
grazing my cheek, his body cuddling the length
of my torso. We sway like that for a minute
or two. And so great is my joy, I whisper a
thank you to God and James and to the universe.
I drink him in: his weight, his smell. I hum
back his small sounds of pleasure.
This is the gift of Layla’s
passing - knowing how precious this moment is.
I close my eyes and feel it all. The loss, the
sadness of her three-and-a-half year absence,
and the deep, deep joy at what is here, now.
He pulls away from our embrace,
because he’s a busy boy, and I stand and
sort the whites and the colours, because there’s
laundry to be done. I glance over to where he
is ‘watering’ the potplant with
the hose and smile, dropping the bibs and washers
and playsuits into the machine like small, soiled
Photo by Ryan Coates
Thin Pink Line
- October 2000