J and P use a turquoise skateboard as their main mode of daily transportation in the house, from the stairs to the table, from the entrance to the couch. They roll back and forth, calm, nonchalant, like mannequins on a conveyor belt. I wince when it bangs into the sliding glass doors, narrowly misses the violin, but am proud of their confidence, their poise.
Something is happening with the sunbirds. There are so many around the house, diving from plant to plant, swooping in through the doors. Phil remarks that at everyone window of the house there is a sunbird flapping its metallic blue wings, chirping loudly as though desperate to be let in. We don’t know why they want to come in so badly, what has shifted in their population or our yard to attract so many. One flies in through the open door, lands on the back of a chair, then hops to each piece of furniture, observing us. It decides its work is done and glides out through the front door. We laugh, baffled, try to remember how miraculous it is, that curved beak, those shimmering feathers.
P walks down the hallway an hour after her bedtime, holding a pink stuffed pig. She walks into the darkened guest room for a few seconds then comes to the living room and announces that she can’t find it, has been looking everywhere. I realize she is asleep, caught up in a dream search for an object she can’t quite articulate. I ask her if she wants help finding her bed. She nods and wipes her blond wispy hair from her face. I tuck her back in under her down comforter, covered in hearts, smile at this glimpse into her private dreams.
M recites Shakespeare, practices writing in cuneiform, teaches us songs in Spanish. She is discovering so many ways of speaking, comes alive with so many possibilities, ways of voicing the ideas teeming in her head. She carries a music stand outside, sings songs from old musicals to the birds.
The girls practice gymnastics in the yard on two old tattered mattresses. They blare Disney songs from speakers, choreograph elaborate routines long after the sun has set. Phil and I are called to be the audience, shine headlamps on them like spotlights.