I stand under the night sky. Two feet on Dominican soil, thin rubber soles between. I wonder how my fingers would feel to reach up and scoop the stars from a leaking sky, light dripping holes in the darkness. They would never fit in my pocket, even my two blue eyes struggle to stretch wide and far enough to hold them.
I feel so small inside these skin walls, which hold my belly to my bones to my soul.
I feel so small when I see you, little one. Arms wide while you smile, star teeth shining between your dark brown lips, your dark brown skin, you reach up to me like the ache in my belly reaches for love. I pull you up, into me. You are growing, and I am stilled by the surprise in my muscles responding to you.
Good morning, I say, as if we are familiar, as if I lived in your batey and you see me every day. You are sassy, little one. What have you seen since I saw you seven months ago? Through what have your growing feet walked? Are the other kids sweet in Cabeza de Toro? Do you have enough to eat? What do you love? Tell me all.
There is one full year of growing inside of you since the first time I held you through your first day of school. Your life is shooting up out of the soil of your soul like the sugar cane lining your long road home. You are bigger, all of you, your bones, your memories, your fingers, your nose.
I am holding you on the same morning I am holding scary words from my very best friend. She is sick, baby girl; she is so sick. The doctors think cancer; my mom had cancer too, and these things wreck us all in such strange ways. This makes me feel so small, little one, so sad and so small. I hold you with the same hands I hold them all, and I wish these hands could do more. I wish these hands, this mind, this heart could be so much more; I wish this body could heal her tumor and carry her pain. I wish my body could stand between you and abuse or shame. I would lay myself down to ease the ache of the world.
And I would think of those Dominican stars, so big and beautiful, gas and dust expanding into light.
And in some quiet moment, on a Sunday night in late July, they raised my chin and made me stand stock-still between the whirling tension of rage and delight. We are not so different from those fireballs in the sky, collecting soul and spirit matter over time. As much as I wish to carry all the hurt and all the shame, I will only stand beside you, hold you and love you, because I would hate to take that glorious substance, relentlessly expanding dust and gas, aching into eternal light.
We are made to become such magnificent giants, stars in the night.