"After a while, she stirs. Her hand hangs, for a moment, in midair, a motion designed to reach out to me, and hug me, perhaps, in her own manner. Yet I can see that it is only herself, in the end, that she embraces. “On me your sin,” she smiles sweetly, placing a hand on her breast, where the heart can be found. “Let your curse be on me.”
The sleeve, meanwhile, continues to climb, as if of its own accord, over my shoulder. By now it is covering the entire length of my arm. To my amazement, a part of me seems to have disappeared. Esav’s arm is beginning to take shape in place of mine.
She leans over me and with a sharp eye, threads her needle. But for some reason, we cannot bear to look at each other eye to eye. “Give me one minute, let me mend it,” she says, removed from me, smiling to herself. “We don’t have much time, I’m afraid. Your brother is on the hunt, and so are we.”
I sit there at her feet watching her work. My mother is so skillful in manipulating that sleeve. Inside of it, my limb feels hot, suffocated. I let her control me, control my hand. It is no longer my hand.
By and by, a perfect calm comes upon me. I have no thought in my head, no clue that this is to be the last sunrise, the last morning that I spend with my mother; no premonition that our time together is running out, and that I should kiss her, and hug her, and bid her farewell.Yet for some reason, glancing around me, I commit to memory every aspect of this scene, every detail: The vivid pattern of the rug, spread across the dirt floor. The embroidered silk pillows, leaning against the woven headrest. The little blemish, barely visible in the corner of the blanket. The silver thread coming apart, at one point, at the bottom of the canvas. The jug of water, half hidden behind the curved leg of the bed.
I can hear little noises: The occasional cry of a newborn baby, searching blindly for his mother’s breast. The light snores of the maidservants, some of whom are just starting to wake up, only to fall asleep again. The yawns of the shepherd boys, stretching their limbs lazily under the sheepskins in the neighboring tents. The unrest of the sheep, the lambs, the kids, the goats, all eager to go out there, to graze in the sun-flooded fields.
Meanwhile the needle flies back and forth, forth and back, over my shoulder, catching the light in its path. I am transfixed. I wish I could stay here forever. This place is so full of charms.
This hour is so intimate; so sweet, and it is fast coming to its bitter conclusion."
Yankle, in A Favorite Son
Here a small voice clip out of this excerpt, narrated by the gifted David Kudler:
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My clay sculpture: Yawn
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