We Used to Know

My older brother and I: we were dialed into the same channel. And there was a time in earliest childhood that felt like a consensus, a world. We were so close in age–just a year and a half between us–navigating the perplexities of post-womb life. And we seemed to know that. When I crossed the street, usually it was him who looked both ways with me, and held my hand. This was a thing you did. And once, driving down the street in the old Volvo with our mother, we saw a lone dachshund standing on a corner doing just that: looking both ways before he crossed. You could learn the world. It’s just a set of rules. And then there’s all the stuff you already know. You already feel. We had a name for our mother only we used. We called her “Daza”, pronounced something Dah Zah. I don’t remember where it came from. Maybe we’d overheard it and were repeating it like little sponge-parrots. I don’t know. But it felt ancient. Like something inherently human. Like we could see all the way back through time. Like it was natural, and then became ritual. It embarrassed her. And it frustrated our father when he tried to say it, and we stubbornly corrected his pronunciation. It didn’t help that we had Kiwi accents, and his was Midwestern American. I remember our mother talking to a man in front of our fireplace, with us kids hugging her bare legs cooing “Daza” up at her as she pushed us away. But we loved her. We would wake up early and sneak into our parents’ room like every day was Christmas morning, climb into their bed, and compete for the spot next to her. She was warm and soft and still familiar. Our father was hard and angular. We didn’t know him. We had to learn him.

Published by msdeer

I am an interdisciplinary artist, slightly incognito here.

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