To complement a short story that I read yesterday, the rain kept pouring and Youtube decided to play the songs of an Italian pianist and composer named Ludovico Einaudi.
I have a collection of literature books that I have kept myself from donating because those things were expensive. I haven’t read every single text in them.
Any time I feel inspired to read a new writer or to revisit a story or poem, they’re there. One of the books that resonates with me the most is the one of American literature since 1945. It contains texts by Sherman Alexie, Mary Oliver, Amy Tan, Julia Alvarez among others writers whose work I have appreciated over the years.
I opened up this book to a random page to read, and I found Leslie Marmon Silko’s short story “Lullaby”. This story is about the depth of loss and about how loss changes people. In the story, Ayah loses her children, and her husband Chato also loses his job and his sense of self worth.
Ayah’s two children are taken away because she signs papers the doctors give her without knowing what she is signing for. The doctors take away her children because they have a disease. Ayah doesn’t see symptoms of a disease, so she asks to see a medicine man, but her husband Chato says that “‘it’s too late'”. This loss happens after she finds out about her oldest son’s death.
By the end of the story Ayah searches for her husband because she has an army blanket, the blanket that her oldest son sent her, that will keep them warm during the cold night. She finds him walking drunk. Even though he neglects her and feels like a stranger after all the years together, Ayah “tuck[s] the blanket around him”. This moment brings back memories of Ella, her daughter, and the ache for children.
What struck me that most about this story was how the lullaby at the end ties the emotions of loss and love.
The earth is your mother,from Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Lullaby”
she holds you.
The sky is your father,
he protects you.
Rainbow is your sister,
she loves you.
The winds are you brothers,
they sing to you.
We are together always
We are together always
There never was a time
was not so.
This lullaby brought back a memory from when I was probably 15. I went on a trip to tour universities in Texas with a group of students and teachers from my high school. It was the first time I was away from my family for a few days. As the bus was moving farther away from them and home, I remember feeling calm.
Throughout the trip, I was surrounded by greenery. The sun shone. The wind made the flags flap. Earth felt like home.