Abruptly, the sea of people parted . . . and then there they were. Bella, with Nalla in her arms, Z standing beside his girls. Beth broke down all over again as the female came forward. God, it was impossible not to remember how Nalla had started this, putting into motion the need that had become undeniable. Bella was tearing up, too, as she stopped. We just want to say yay! At that moment, Nalla reached out to Beth, a gummy smile on her face, pure joy radiating out. No turning that down, nope, not at all. Beth took the little girl out of her mother’s arms and positioned her on her chest, capturing one of the pinwheeling hands and giving kisses, kisses, kisses. You ready to be a big . . . Beth glanced at Z and then her husband. . . . a big sister? Yes, Beth thought. Because that’s what the Brotherhood and their families were. Close as siblings, tighter than blood because they were chosen. Yes, she is, Bella said as she wiped under her eyes and looked back at Z. She is so ready. My brother. Z shoved out his palm, his scarred face in a half smile, his yellow eyes warm. Congratulations. Instead of shaking anything, Wrath shoved that ultrasound picture into his Brother’s face. Do you see him? See my son? He’s big, right, Beth? She kissed Nalla’s supersoft hair. Yes. Big and healthy, right? Beth laughed some more. Big and healthy. Absolutely perfect. Perfect! Wrath bellowed. And this is a doctor saying it—I mean, she went to medical school. Even Z started laughing at that point. Beth gave Nalla back to her parents. And Dr. Sam told me she’s delivered over fifteen thousand babies over the course of her career— See! Wrath yelled. She knows these things. My son is perfect! Where’s the champagne? Fritz! Get the fucking champagne!
J.R. Ward
Fanfare for the MakersA cloud of witnesses. To whom? To what?To the small fire that never leaves the sky.To the great fire that boils the daily pot.To all the things we are not remembered by,Which we remember and bless. To all the thingsThat will not notice when we die,Yet lend the passing moment words and wings.So fanfare for the Makers: who composeA book of words or deeds who runs may writeAs many who do run, as a family growsAt times like sunflowers turning towards the light.As sometimes in the blackout and the raidsOne joke composed an island in the night.As sometimes one man’s kindness pervadesA room or house or village, as sometimesMerely to tighten screws or sharpen bladesCan catch a meaning, as to hear the chimesAt midnight means to share them, as one manIn old age plants an avenue of limesAnd before they bloom can smell them, before they spanThe road can walk beneath the perfected arch,The merest greenprint when the lives beganOf those who walk there with him, as in defaultOf coffee men grind acorns, as in despiteOf all assaults conscripts counter assault,As mothers sit up late night after nightMoulding a life, as miners day by dayDescend blind shafts, as a boy may flaunt his kiteIn an empty nonchalant sky, as anglers playTheir fish, as workers work and can take prideIn spending sweat before they draw their pay.As horsemen fashion horses while they ride,As climbers climb a peak because it is there,As life can be confirmed even in suicide:To make is such. Let us make. And set the weather fair.Louis Macneice
Louis MacNeice
The missing remained missing and the portraits couldn't change that. But when Akhmed slid the finished portrait across the desk and the family saw the shape of that beloved nose, the air would flee the room, replaced by the miracle of recognition as mother, father, sister, brother, aunt and cousin found in that nose the son, brother, nephew and cousin that had been, would have been, could have been and they might race after the possibility like cartoon characters dashing off a cliff, held by the certainty of the road until they looked down -- and plummeted is the word used by the youngest brother who, at the age of sixteen, is tired of being the youngest and hopes his older brother will return for many reasons, not least so he will marry and have a child and the youngest brother will no longer be youngest; that youngest brother, the one who has nothing to say about the nose because he remembers his older brother's nose and doesn't need the nose to mean what his parents need it to mean, is the one who six months later would be disappeared in the back of a truck, as his older brother was, who would know the Landfill through his blindfold and gag by the rich scent of clay, as his older brother had known, whose fingers would be wound with the electrical wires that had welded to his older brother's bones, who would stand above a mass grave his brother had dug and would fall in it as his older brother had, though taking six more minutes and four more bullets to die, would be buried an arm's length of dirt above his brother and whose bones would find over time those of his older brother and so, at that indeterminate point in the future, answer his mother's prayer that her boys find each other, wherever they go; that younger brother would have a smile on his face and the silliest thought in his skull a minute before the first bullet would break it, thinking of how that day six months earlier, when they all went to have his older brother's portrait made, he should have had his made, too, because now his parents would have to make another trip and he hoped they would, hoped they would because even if he knew his older brother's nose, he hadn't been prepared to see it and seeing that nose, there, on the page, the density of loss it engendered, the unbelievable ache of loving and not having surrounded him, strong enough to toss him, as his brother had, into the summer lake, but there was nothing but air and he'd believed that plummet was as close as they would ever come again and with the first gunshot one brother fell within arms' reach of the other and with the fifth shot the blindfold dissolved and the light it blocked became forever and on the kitchen wall of his parents' house his portrait hangs within arm's reach of his older brother, praying that they find each other, wherever they go.
Anthony Marra