Clicky

Tricia Louvar

BEDTIME ENCYCLOPEDIA

by Tricia Louvar

Imagine if we unraveled your brain—hooked a dendrite or axon onto a crochet needle to pull it out of your skull. We could then attach the pathway to a plane’s wing and fly around the globe almost four times without ever having to stop, unless you count the refueling needs, which have nothing to do with your brain’s capability or pursuit for knowing, remembering, or releasing. It is just how much circuitry we have laid down for you inside your skull, with all the fish oil and the Bach and the nursing and the playing with your fingers and toes at all hours of the day and night. At the end of the plane’s journey would be your brain laid out as pipeline for the world to see, to touch, to know. What if we could attach a carabiner and slide our way from one side of the world to the other and back home again along your brain’s pathway without ever getting lost?

*

Years have passed now and you read to yourself and come tell me the best parts about anything discovered from a book—planetary rotation, dinosaurs, chess strategies, Russell Wilson statistics, code breaking. The funny parts, too, you share, narrowly escaping tears and a saliva rush from making yourself crack up so hard.

*

My head is pillow propped in your sister’s bedroom, where I am reading a bedtime story and then stop to explain the definition of “-ish” and how one would use it. You hear this from your bedroom and the word game beckons you in. Peevish, football-ish, apple-ish, and so on we try out new words with the ending. You play along with the passion of a professor without notes.

*

The patchouli soap bar on your clock radio (an odd place, but it is your room) you use more like a candle without a wick than for its sudsy dousing nature next to your sink. You covet the smell, like some kids covet toy cars. The soap maker, in her booth under the canopy at the folk festival, offered it to you in a wax paper baggy with a little cup of coffee beans. You thought, what an odd mix: what kind of science experiment was this? Then you learned the relationship between the beans and aromatics. Ah-ha: another notch in your cap of smart.

*

There are a few other things to remember, I think, as to not get you down, which are rarely ever considered fact, but which I learned: If you make space for friendship, don’t be afraid to let it go when it has run its course. Friends often come into your life just to illuminate a corner of who you want to become or who you are or where you do not want to go. They are mirrors of your best self or worst self. Beyond them is a real silence that is the company of solitude by being alone with your own thoughts and sense of self. Find it, take it in, and know that it is the real source of happiness and authenticity.

*

Breathe in fire, let out light: drift immaculate clouds in animal patterns.

Move your arms to talk to wild horses that you may meet one day while backpacking the Sierra Nevada range without me. Remember to pack your emergency shot and double, even triple up, on your medications in the event . . .

Don’t go to a dolphin; let it come to you when you surf again in the ocean of your childhood, the one where we spent every summer Wednesday and you slept in the car on the way home from sun exhaustion and hunger. And then, begged for pizza in our home with drapes and balcony shades drawn tight to keep the afternoon blaze at bay. You and your sister sat so close on the sofa, legs intertwined always, and watched PBS in collapse and in near tears as I scrambled to quickly fix something to eat.

Travel to London to see the Rosetta Stone for yourself and stand before it to crack the code with your notebook of symbols and dull pencil.

If you ever come up against a Gordian knot, remember to use lateral thinking to undo it. And maybe anything else daddy has ever shown you that might work.

*

There is an earthworm in your near future. A cow’s eyeball, too. For the incision and then dissection, be gentle and respectful. Don’t make fun of it. Or pretend it is nothing to you or to this life. It has a purpose, which is to make you a scientist to see all that is inside all of us and beyond. The connections may be very dim at first, but then magically, one day while driving your own car a small constellation of brightness will appear and life will reveal itself in an infinitesimal flash. Don’t go lonely over it. Or worried. You will return to the stars again one day as dust. We all do. In fact, we still are; we just look different right now. You, my love, are still as bright and mysterious as all previous lives. It is cumulative.

*

Someday there will be a girl who will make you a deli sandwich with shredded lettuce while wearing plastic-lined gloves. You will tell her over the glass counter about her brain before she places cucumbers and pickles on a honey oat bun. Tell her that you are back to visit your parents, and you will say, with an open heart and with nectar rhythms, it is not good to spend one’s entire life in the same place. Days thereafter, after visiting your father and me, telling us all your discoveries and hypotheses, you will return to the science lab with your name on it.

*


Run marathons against all odds your body has put you and us through. You will be the first person in history to cure your rare condition. At night on the balcony, before daddy and I intertwine our toes under the flannel bed sheets and we fall into a silent conversation of a golden age, I remember all the times I did not look fast enough to see all the shooting stars you have seen in an instant. But I keep scanning with tilted head and neck gone cold from the crisp mountain air. A treasure chest in another galaxy holds your wishes, which brims over and echoes into the orbitals of other organisms.

*

Before I lift the covers and tuck them under your chin—you are never too old for this—let patchouli and cinnamon toothpaste ignite us in an everlasting spinal tap of our heart’s openings. We are a globular cluster no matter the distance you go to keep records and discern the combination of life through eyepieces with varying focal lengths or magnifications. Such vision, you have, to witness the signals on Perseus’s Arm or create structures that may grow into tiny organs in jars for tomorrow’s kids.  As we say, anything is possible.

*

There you go, with Daddy, Sis, and me as the winter sun breaks through the fog to cast off the millions of frosty flakes the size of piranha teeth from the pine needles and wilted grasses in the wilderness of alpine country. All of us are shining in the sun, whirling and falling in all directions, but we are doing it together. For a thousand more years. And then all over again.

============================================================================
LouvarTricia Louvar’s creative work has appeared in Best of the Web (Dzanc Books), Zyzzyva, Superstition Review, Prick of the Spindle, Brevity, Vestal Review, Bound Off, among other online, print, and multimedia literary outlets. She writes, trains, draws, and lives in the scenic Cascade Range of Oregon with her husband, their children, and dog. See more at www.tricialouvar.com.

Add Comment Register



Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *