You eat blueberries on the strip of balcony they listed as a “terrace” and watch the cars pulse through the railings. Car--railing--car--railing. You are entranced by cars, but I worry that you think they are alive. You pet the bumper of each car affectionately when we move down neat parking lot rows. You tuck your plastic miniatures beneath blankets and murmur “shh, shh, shh” to them before bed. I worry that this means you are antisocial, or that he has broken your sense of reality, of affection, but the social workers tell me that I am ‘projecting’. This is the thing that mothers do when they are fearful of cars--of gravel beneath tires, the rhythmic and ponderous crunch before the door opens, and shuts, and the footsteps begin.
You get blueberries stuck in your tiny baby teeth; a swath of blue skin covers one and you are a pirate. I grin at your pirate tooth until it is a drug addict tooth, a rotting body tooth, and I duck behind you to slide my index finger into your mouth.
“I’m just getting it off,” I say, but you’re already crying. I lift you in my arms, and am amazed at your tiny hands clenched in my sweater, your chubby legs warm and strong against my waist, all instinct, like a clinging primate. I marvel at myself; the cause and the comfort. “You had blueberry stuck in your teeth,” I say into your hair and inhale, deep, the sour-sweet smell of your scalp. ‘They could lead me blindfolded down a line of kids and I could sniff your hair, and I would know it was you,’ my mother used to tell me, and it drives me to memorize you now.
I ask the social workers if you’ll remember him, how much, how long, and they say you won’t, not at all, but there’s always projection. I should be careful not to project. And when I ask them whether he’ll stay in, whether they’ll let him out, and when, the social workers smile with their big, big grown up teeth.
“It’s just blueberry skin,” I say, very softly, to your hair, but you hear a fire truck scream by and you use me as a fulcrum to crane your entire body toward the sound. Close, and close, and CLOSE and away, away, away it goes--shh, shh, shh. You love cars. I once watched the lights of a police car flicker red, and blue, and red, and blue and it made me think of you.