She stirs and summersaults and hiccups. Or he, we are not yet sure which. My doctor tells me she can hear. I wonder which sounds she catches. Which words. Does she hear me tell Thom to bring the salt from the kitchen? Does she hear us talk over dinner? Soup. Proud. Cold. Blanket. Hope. Windows. Name. Amen. Does she store these words? Or do they just catch on the edge or her forming brain and dissolve?
Does she already know the rhythm of my walking, how I step with my head first, like I’m about to do a face plant on the sidewalk? I remember in high school discovering that some people lead with their hips and my friends who dance lead with their breast bones. I lead with my head, like one edge of a parallelogram. Does she know this already? Does she feel us pushing ourselves into the world, headfirst, as if we want to touch everything with our mouths and brains? Did she feel it, yesterday, when we got caught on our walk in the rain?
I baked bread in our dutch oven the other day. The cast iron is from Thom’s grandparents. The bread was easy with only three ingredients. It didn’t require kneading, just patience. That night, as we ate it with spicy soup and melting butter, I told Thom that what was therapeutic about baking it was my passive participation in its coming to being. I did nothing, for much more time and in some ways much more consciously, than I did anything at all. There are few tasks: mixing the water flour yeast and salt, preheating the oven, turning the dough ball into the cast iron. These things took minutes and I didn’t think much of them. But the waiting captivated me. It took my steadfast concentration. I felt ernest and hope-filled. There was waiting and watching and even listening. When the bread comes hot from the oven, it sings. It cracks as it cools, telling you to wait to cut it. If you cut it before it stops singing, the bread turns gummy and dense. You have to listen carefully.
Patience. Disciplined rest. Biding time. “To Abide: to remain, to continue, to stay.” This is the time of negative space. When the bread comes from the oven and your house fills with smell, there is positive space.
In three months and a few days we will know her name. Or his name. We will know her touch, her sounds, her eyes. There will be the positive space. There will be something I can say something about. There will be something to do. For now, there is nothing to do. We are just to wait. And try our best to wrap our minds around that which we cannot understand, that which is coming, that which we cannot know. The task is to hope. The skill required is patience.
Now we sit with what we cannot know, feeling her kick and listening carefully.