This is my great aunt Celia with her husband, my great Uncle Jake. As a young woman Auntie Celia emigrated from Russia to the U.S. She served as domestic help to a family member. She was not formally educated. She was wise, wise enough to leave them a ladle of memories.
She works hard to keep the words held tightly inside. Sometimes it seems they are going to leap off her tongue, but she seals her lips, On occasion, if you look closely, you will see that her lips open, just a hair’s width, as if she might let the words out, as if she actually wants to put them outside her mouth and into the room, but she has no breath with which to push them beyond her teeth.
The trapeze artist is a change master. The knows how to let go and when to grab hold.
This is a mother’s apology to her son. I am the mother, apologizing to my son for not understanding that he has a system of fine distinctions between the various levels of clothing dirtiness.