My second child is born, unexpected after so
many years, and I am mysteriously amazed at how
Rose, her older sister, seems suddenly grown up.
Here comes Rose now, eight years old,
her hair cropped short on top and left silky long in the back.
She’s wearing a red short-sleeve blouse and a necklace
of obscenely large red beads, like blood fruit of some kind.
She’s squinting into the sunlight, and her jaw is clamped shut.
It’s hard and juts out, though not in an unfriendly way.
The baby has set Rose to thinking, and she asks questions.
She and I have a facts-of-life dialogue, and the next day
she goes to her mother and says, “That’s disgusting.”
Her mother says, “Rose, someday your body
is going to tell you it wants to be with a man like that.”
It wouldn’t have occurred to me to say that.
Rose’s eyes swell up like moons, and her mouth
hangs open like a black hole. “No way,” she says.
“No sir, not me. When my body tells me that, I’m not listening.”
The other thing is that Rose has become fascinated
by religion. She asks me to read the Bible to her.
When we get to the part about the Immaculate Conception,
she says, “Oh, that’s nice; read that again.”