I find ZC crouched by the front gate. Bruised petals and leaves beneath her feet, stuck to her skin. Her hair wild. A lifting of the wind carries the scent of another spring. The scent of decay and sharp green growth.
Days of rain driving down petal, leaf, of turning into slick collecting in the gutters. Days of sun pressing, searching, burning, past fabric, skin, straight into the bones of us.
Zaviera looks up at me, fragile-eyed but fierce in her bones. She thought she was alone, in the clear. She didn’t expect to be caught scampering after her desire.
“Hi Mommy,” she says.
Her hands are clutched to her heart, guarding something beneath her shirt.
“What are you doing, sweetheart?”
Her shoulders round against the question. She looks up at me through long lashes, through the shadows cast by hair growing in its unique sense of direction.
She knows I know. This knowing falls between us, a space of sun, of light without hunger or burn.
“You won’t tell daddy?”
I squat down.
She reaches down into the neck of her shirt and pulls out her ‘dadu’, her pacifier from the sports bra top she wanted because it looked just like one of mine. I didn’t pause too long on the ‘why’ there were mini sports bra tops in the five-year-old section. If I’d the option at five, its guaranteed I would’ve been dreaming of owning one. She wears it as I do, all the time, and just like me, she quickly began using the bra as a secret stash-away for precious things.
She puts the dadu in my hand.
It is warm from and I imagine the hummingbird flight of her heart trapped in the soft plastic of it.
The fierce beating of The Heart that Wants, that she can’t HELP wanting even though we tell her, “You are almost five, you’ll need to stop using your dadus.”
She watches me, waiting.
“Did you feel like you needed your dadu?”
”Can I please have it? Just for a little bit?”
It is a quiet request, a moment of trust that stretches between us. I tell her yes and then to bring it back to me when she is done.
She is a pounce of love, of gratitude. Her heart against my heart, they speak to one another about wanting and shame and hiding and grace.
I feel the relief in her body, a lightness that moves into me. It illuminates tight and dark corners of my heart, where shame has shoved my ‘dadus’, those vulnerable hungers and comforts.
ZC extracts herself and is on her way, humming through the dadu.
I’m crouching in the scent of earth, leaf, rain damp concrete, in the receding warmth of my daughter, and I’m feeling that maybe my heart can learn to hum through its dadus too.