silver, sleep and seizures

By the time I kicked our dinner guests out, the clock was inching towards eleven p.m. Our bellies were swollen with Michael’s carnitas, my guacamole, our neighbor’s fresh chunky green salad and another neighbor’s chocolate iced chocolate cake. We’d laughed at length about infused vodkas and their scandalous effects, about performing CPR on an electrocuted cat, about designer chocolate, home renovations, Mainers and their ways and the long-ass winter that somehow we feel we’re still amidst.

At one point, as the conversation dissolved around me, I drifted into the center of one of several hundred of Michael’s glass-plate photographs, this one hung on the far wall opposite of where I sat. Under its spotlight in the darkened room the ambrotype's silver gleamed like smokey quartz and I imagined diving into the heart of what looks to be a bed of reeds under a stand of swaying Savannah palms.

Before dawn, the glass plates had sliced their way into a sorry dream. In it, Calvin was a miniature baby no bigger than my thumb. He was very ill, so I lovingly and delicately sandwiched him between two small plates of glass the size of playing cards, and rushed him to the emergency room. When I peeled back the top plate so the doctor could examine him, Calvin's eyes were bulging the way they did during his very first seizure, his tiny torso collapsed, blue and oxygen-starved. In the moments before waking I feared for his life.

Four-forty-five came, as always, far too early and this time unsettling, the image of Calvin my thumb-sized boy etched into my groggy mind. Michael brought our fussy son into bed with us, hoping to calm him so we'd all catch a few more winks. Calvin struggled before eventually falling back to sleep only to wake an hour later to a seizure. In Michael’s arms Calvin stiffened then convulsed. I kissed his neck and in the dim morning light we could see that his hands had turned blue. I watched the clock over Michael’s shoulder and by three minutes the seizure was over, so I ran downstairs to collect Calvin’s drugs and spooned them into his mouth before he drifted off to sleep again, still next to Michael.

I decided to crawl into Calvin's empty bed to get some sounder sleep. With my head on the pillow I laid there thinking of Michael’s ambrotype, how its brilliant image had beckoned me to a different place and time. With my eyes closed, I dove back into its mysterious warmth, dipped my toes into its silver sands and let its sultry zephyr rock me back to sleep.


  1. Such beautiful writing, and such a beautiful picture....Your talent and your love shine; they cradle Calvin in their embrace

  2. That's fascinating and mysterious. I love how your brain works, Christy -- despite what motivated it. May you get some rest today.

    1. the boy was up at 3:00 am today and did not go back to sleep. luckily spring break is over, he is back at school so i am going to take a nap ... now. xoox