Posted by: alegra22 | August 7, 2009

forgotten roads

forgotten roads

Tonight I imagine that on the back of my head there is a territory only my son can see. As we drive, he watches his questions move through the darkness. They collide at the crossroads in the wilderness of my hair. It does nothing to stop him from sending more commuters through this endless night we share, their flashing turn signals flaring lighting the edges of the road. Their headlights fixed straight ahead, not seeing the hidden warnings that Mommy’s ‘stop’ sign, her ‘yield’, her ‘winding roads ahead’ have wandered off to join the Wild Things romping with their gnashing teeth and roaring their terrible roars.

I hear the collisions again and again. The pile up continues. Glass shatters. Metal crunches. There is the taste of gasoline on my tongue. The smell of burning rubber drifts from my skin. But still I can’t find the right answers. Still my son persists.

He is not worried. He believes I have the map. He doesn’t know that I believe it to be buried somewhere in the shifting sands of my mind. The sands that continue their slow drift through my heart, a migration into my bones, year after year so that the familiar markers change every time I look.

He asks, “But why does the moon come at night? Why does the sun go to the other side of the world? How do we get out of this world? Why does that arrow point down? Why does the monster die?”

And I answer “Because…”

Climbing through the wreckage, I follow the scent of snake, of honeysuckle. I gather lilacs to me in a graveyard with the taste of orange popsicle on my tongue. I scratch at moss on the rough bark of a tree. I wrestle with the milkweed. I search for the answers.


My voice climbs through my thoughts, filling itself with a clear blue sky and the memory of cold river water swirling around my legs. The strands of frog eggs glistening beneath my feet like something beautiful and obscene. My voice climbs through my childhood and the promise I made to myself that I would never forget the right answers.

These are the things I want to give to him. Instead I say, “Mommy just needs a little bit of quiet for a moment, okay?”

He is not old enough to understand the need for quiet to remember the world.

I am old enough to suddenly understand that he doesn’t need my answers, he is inlove with the questions.

My child sees the map all over my skin. He places his questions on the roads I thought were long abandoned and he leads me home.



  1. Very well said. Plus mommy knows all the answers

    BTW love the pic you selected for this blog.

    • I fell in love with this picture. I want to print it out, frame it, and place it above my desk.
      I *wish* Mommy knew all the answers…

  2. Remember, Mommy, “Because” is not an answer.

    • No, “because” is not always an answer. Sometimes it is a space between answers. But, really, when you think about it, there are moments when “because” is the answer to everything. Just because.

  3. There are times when I’ve read your writings and have been so captivated with the imagery that my peripheral world seems to fall away and all I see is the pictures your words are sketching. This was one of those times. I look forward to one day stumbling upon a novel in your name at my local Barnes & Noble.

    • Just when I am least expecting it (but needing it most) I am gifted with words of encouragement. I came home to your comment and it was like finding a present sitting on my doorstep. Thank you.

  4. True, “becuase” isn’t an answer. It is, however, frequently an adverbial clause/phrase or a coordinating conjunction. But that’s besides the point. I think you’re right, he is in love with the questions, and the answers are generally interesting only in their capacity for generating more questions.

    Questions are strange, provocative, changing things. The smallest or most unexpected question can lead to many different places, can turn the road signs around, and suddenly the beaten path is a bit shakier than one remembers.

    Breadcrumbs are good for that I hear, though really, I’d ditch it all and just go for the GPS 😉 Much love and many soothing-and-question-dissolving-so-you-can-embrace-a-few-moments-of-silence-before-the-next-flooded-interrogation hugsies.

    • Slight correction – “because” can act as either a subordinating conjunction, a complex preposition or an adverbial particle (depends on it’s use and how you look at it).

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