Suspended above the palace of Indra . . . is an enormous net. A brilliant jewel is attached to each of the knots. Each jewel contains and reflects the image of all the other jewels in the net, which sparkles in the magnificence of its totality.
— Daisaku Ikeda
We mothers meet on the playground, sun-hungry, kicking at scabs of ice, shuffling and bumping tired sentences against each other, all too broken by winter to say how things really are. The bell rings, I wave to my daughter, small magician, all enigma, moon, and mercury, shifting alchemy of low blood sugar, Harry Potter, and Dutch DNA, all day her mood refracting and reflecting the whims of the queen bees in her first-grade hive. She labors into the car, hauling her Sisyphean pink knapsack stuffed with assessments and assignments, endless trelliswork of No Child Left Behind, around which the billion strands of her imagination are trained to weave. Sometimes we don’t have time to do better, I say to myself in the car, wincing at my generic query about her day, she faithfully delivering her monosyllabic answer as we drive home through the whirling snowflakes, our stale comments lacing and braiding together as we reach between front seat and back, between the jewels of mouths and eyes, tired word stitched to tired word, this ritual of rough encapsulations, of infinite reflections upon infinite reactions, our mouths the blinking cheap motels of the stars and heavens — still, a noble kind of reaching, a dogged kind of loving, weaving its own coarse net through the gleaming fields of winter.