Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Keeping Track of Insects


This is my moon, he insists, while holding your hand, every time he places his paw in yours, you worry that someday he won't want to do this. Tomorrow night, you can have the moon. You agree, he can have today's, yours can be another. Did someone cut it to be a crescent, using scissors very carefully? He loves the shape-word crescent, another Montessori-ism, like "peaceful hands," and "work." You explain how the moon is still whole but we can't see it, we have to suspend our belief you hear yourself saying to a four year-old. Like when I know there is a bottom of the bathtub under all the bubbles? Yes, exactly. You almost say, like yesterday in the emergency room, when we had to have faith you'd be just fine. Instead, you say, like what the nurse said when you asked me why you couldn't stop crying. He nods, she said it takes a long long time to get rid of all the tears after such a big scare. He hands you the pit of his apricot -- I'm not crying anymore! -- and runs ahead. You call after him as he races to your gate, thanks for the slimy seed. He is a speeding little-boy shape in the dusk -- while you hang back, questioning if you've cried enough of your own scare out.

Earn his silence as he snuggles, close, toothpaste breath on your cheek, small bare chest along yours. Hands finally not busy. Hands finally not in mischief. Point to the circles, Fall Cankerworm, Milkweed Bug, Mourning Cloak. Tell him, egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, moth. Hear him as he asks, why does it do that, over and over and over and over and over again? Feel his knees with one hand, strong hinges that hold together the endless energy of his legs. Avoid the bandage, the three stitches. Answer: they cycle, just like people, like you. Kiss his shampooed head. Read about stag beetles, larva. Draw on his chest, Baby, man, dad, baby, man, dad. He breathes in your ear, only mamas have babies. Read until his eyes droop, satisfied he's set you straight.

Stefanie Freele is the author of the short story collection Feeding Strays (Lost Horse Press), a finalist in the John Gardner Binghamton University Fiction Award and the Book of the Year Award. She recently won the Glimmer Train Fiction Open. Her published and forthcoming fiction can be found in Glimmer Train, American Literary Review, McSweeney�s Internet Tendency, Westview, Frigg, Boston Literary Review, Permafrost, and Hobart Online. Stefanie is the fiction editor for the Los Angeles Review. Stefanie’s second collection, While Surrounded by Water, will be published by Press 53 in 2012.

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This piece is so beautifully written it took my breath away. I'm going out today to buy "Feeding Strays" because I can't wait to read more of your writing. Wonderful!
Stephanie, you are without a doubt one of my all-time favourite writers. I love, love, love your stories.
Gorgeous, Stefanie. To Debbie Sweet: I've read Feeding Strays cover to cover, some stories many times over, and I strongly encourage you to buy a copy. And no, Stefanie and I are NOT related, though she has in the past impregnated me with inspiration, so maybe somehow we really are related . . .
Thanks, Richard. I can't find the book here (I'm in Canada), so I'll have to order it. But I definitely will, and know I'll enjoy it!
Magnificent writing. Compact, suffused with warmth, wisdom and love. And over and above that, it inspires. Brava!
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