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After her umbilical cord was cut, thick streaks of blood wiped off, they brought my daughter dry, pink and powdered in a Princess Pretty onesie. Already she smelled alien, so I huddled like an ape over her tiny skull, lips moving across her scalp, frantically searching for her soft spot, the fontanel, its warm pulsing cave, no bigger than a dime, barely covered with a slip of skin. I felt the manic bird of her heartbeat flutter into my throat, her unfinished nerves sparking and misfiring, the tiny wings of her blood rushing in and out. Twenty years later, an anthropologist, I roam the earth’s skull with the same urgency as the day I first held her, feeling for the vulnerable spots, the cultural fontanels, the warm parts that throb, back alleys, liminal zones, where shapes shift, asylees huddle, girls pass like shadows between spirit and flesh, where refugees hide in comas and won’t come out til its safe. the tender places that swell between sutures, the psych wards and chemo dens, where the status quo groans, the internet is sketchy, people edgy, sherpas caught between youtube and soul loss, avatars and graveyards, ipad and axe, and globalization drapes unevenly across the earth’s back. Long ago a monk once told me, when the dharma feels stiff, everything locked into place, and you race to the elevator, breathless, just as the doors are about to close, let them shut, let the others go up and down in their stale boxes and stuck chakras. Instead fly high as you can, look down from above, where the earth still looks wet from its cosmic birth, dented, soft and supple, behold the cartilage, the soft spots built into evolution that refuse to harden, the places with mouths still hanging open, the dark fontanels that ripple like wide eyed ponds, the skull plates hovering like sharks.
Adrie Kusserow’s books include Refuge published by BOA.
Copyright 2020 Adrie Kusserow