One of my nieces used to cup her hands over the enchanting pictures in her storybooks, and carry them invisibly in a finger-cradle to her mother. At that time, my sister-in-law washed dishes by ones and twos in a portable tub, hung laundry to dry, and revolved a simple routine of feeding, delighting, neatening and soothing three little girls.
There is a hint of eternity in her eyes, so that someone might have suspected. A gentle clarity in her voice might have given someone pause, to guess. But mostly people do not pause. She must have walked by scads of people unnapprehended, with her pockets stuffed invisibly full of twelve dancing princesses, teddy bears, tugboats, golden apples, flight, the four winds, pinnied hedgehogs, George and Martha, outer space. Her hands untangled hair and scrubbed clogged matter from the contours of their cereal bowls; her back was accustomed to the weight of their dangling dependence; and her pockets were full of my nieces’ dreams.
I think of that hollow of fingers, the empty cradle of invisible enchanting pictures held up in love, as a metaphor of prayer.
And I pause to guess at my sister in law till I apprehend her — till I see the image of someone else who walked here. His hands with the holes that everyday, scrub clogged dirt from our contours; his back plowed with our utter need; his pockets full of our dreams.