interbirthbooks
handbound volumes of poetry, prose, and prints


Nurse says I cannot leave the darkened room.  She says I have the measles and could go blind if I see the sun.  She says blind is like the dark.  But Nurse lies.  Everyone knows when you stare into the sun, it traps inside your eyes and all you see is light.  Nurse touches the drapes every time she's in the room.  As if they'll fly open and blind me if she doesn't.  Nurse says do not pull the golden drapery cord because behind the drapes is a large window that looks into the garden and sun. 

I used to wish for my little brother to visit and peek through the drapes and tell me what is truly there because Nurse says there is a garden full of yellow and pink snapdragons and a little path where brown spotted rabbits jump and dance.  But I don't wish for him anymore.  He would be scared to come in here now.  It is much darker.

Nurse pretends it is not so dark.  I test her by asking for my little brother.  Instead of saying he can't come because he's scared, she says he will get the measles.  I laugh and say then he wouldn't be scared of the dark anymore.  Nurse says I'm a cruel little girl to wish death on loved ones.  She doesn't know I'm onto her game.

Nurse would win if my little brother were in this bed.  He doesn't suspect that adults lie to children.  That they lie because they miss playing tiddly winks so they make up their own games, but you have to figure out the rules to beat them.  Rules such as, there is a window and garden and sun.  Rules such as, you will go blind.  Don't pull the golden cord.

Nurse is afraid of losing, which is why she's stopped lighting the lamps.  I pretend not to notice the dark.  I'm not scared because I'm not my brother.  She can't trick me.

My brother is so terrified of the dark that he hates to shut his eyes -- even for sleep.  That's why nurse ties stockings around his head and lets him blame her for taking away the light.  Nurse is very sly.  Which is why she gives me a rabbit stuffed with stockings.  She says I must be lonely without my little brother to play with.  She says your rabbit is alive and wants to play in your bed garden.  I say rabbits in gardens might as well be dead since I can't see them.  She says the drapes must stay closed and don't wish for death or blindness because measles can do both.  But she's lying about pulling the cord because she lies about rabbits.  Stuffed rabbits don't become alive until children have loved them so much that their button eyes fall out and noses rub away.  I don't tell nurse about blindness and rabbits because she refuses to tell the truth about the window.

Nurse is losing because she didn't realize that turning out the lamps has caused great improvements in my hearing.  I hear my brother's tin soldiers clack in war in the nursery.  I hear my baby doll's eyes open and shut.  I hear Nurse's shoes creak around the house.  When I hear my brother breathing, I yell and hit the wall because it's so dark I'm beginning to forget what light is.  Nurse says be quiet.  Nurse says loudness is not good for young ladies with or without measles.  I ask if loudness is not good for ladies with or without sight.  She says don't wish for bad things.  I say I'm onto you.

I press the rabbit's eyes to mine and colors burst in my head.  I ask the rabbit what it sees.  It says the lamp is lit low.  I cannot love a rabbit that talks like Nurse.  So I chew out its back seam and tie the stockings around my eyes.  When Nurse comes in, I say look I'm blind.  All I see is dark and it's all your fault.  Nurse gasps.  She spanks me and says she won't describe the garden through the window anymore.  I laugh because she knows she's losing.  She says wait until you're better and see for yourself Miss Impatience.  She touches my forehead.  Her fingers run through my hair.  They sound like rabbits slipping on a frozen pond.  I try to slap her hands away.  She says don't act like you're blind.  I ask if blindness is worse than lying.

Nurse says I can play in the garden tomorrow.  I say like a rabbit stuffed with stockings?  She pretends not to understand because the game's about to finish.  I explain she wishes me blind.  That's why she gave me the rabbit.  That's why she's stopped lighting lamps.  She says the lamps are lit.  I say sore loser.  I know I can't play in the garden.  I say do you mean the garden behind the window?  She says of course.  She says, the sun can't hurt you now.  I laugh very cruel and scream LIAR!  Then I crawl across the carpet as if I'm blind.  And I show her that there is no garden.  No window.  I pulled the golden cord.  I saw.