IV. Baby

I hear the baby crying at the other end of the car in shotgun screams pausing only for breath as the train races underground, popping ears and causing discomfort for all but for none so much as this infant whose tiny head must feel as though it is being crushed in a vise grip like a nut in a little handheld nutcracker, the kind that so handily cracks crab shells and lobster claws so someone can pick and pull the white meat from within. The pressure mounts and the shrieks continue and I sit on my hands to actively resist clapping them over my ears and crying for the crying to stop because it’s so unbearable to hear such expressions of pain from a creature so small and unspoiled knowing that not so long from now the pain that causes such tears will come from the pressure within and not without. Everyone’s ears pop and everyone feels discomfort but no one’s physical pain rivals that caused by the internal invisible hand which cracks their bones and picks and pulls the heart meat from within, daring us all to cry in shotgun screams that we cannot allow ourselves to cry. Mummy and Dad try to soothe Baby who wants none of it and continues his gulps and yells and no one on the train can look at him for we all know that in his every tear and sobbing breath is a little of ourselves, a little of the wrenching ache we suppress because we’ve grown and spoiled like an old quart of milk left in a hollow log in a clearing in the woods that none will approach except the bearer of the hand that scraped our guts and left us there to spoil. And so we bury our heads in papers and books and turn up the volume and close our eyes, turning away from the little pan of new milk at the other end of the car with the fresh cream rising and threatening to spill as the train rattles along, because unlike Baby we know our destination approaches rapidly and there is nothing we can do to save the milk that will inevitably spill and spoil.

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