Sometimes, after Adam is full to the brim with milk and formula, I sweep him back to me and let him lounge on my chest, his feet hanging off one side of me, his head cradled in the crook of my arm on the other side, and I let him sigh, nestle, burb and burble there. At these times, I think of Adam as a little Huck Finn on his raft. It is a strained association, and yet, to me, an irresistible one. Perhaps it is that he is so small against me, perhaps it is that he is so contented – the analogy to Huck, being pulled by a gigantic force beyond his reckoning, while looking up after his stew at a night sky full of riddles and of vast extent, at the still point in his flight from his father to territories unknown, conversing with Jim – well, the analogy makes sense to me, and it is why I jump from this image I have so clearly in my mind to Adam, here, pulled in his own way by gigantic forces, too, the irresistible growth of the body that flows, too, forward, carrying brain, limb, heart, as relentless as a river heading South. And as vulnerable to the blows of life as any boy on a raft in the midst of a mile wide river. I see Adam’s tininess and how he is incredibly bereft of any way of coping with the world of adults, and that he it doesn’t concern him. He still trustingly sprawls across me, making those sucking motions with his mouth between yawns and shutting his eyes (and me on the lookout for the one sure sign of impending sleep, the balled up fists) – this sense of him in the play of giant forces of course floods me with a mixed sense of anxiety (knowing that my fuckups from now on out won’t just weigh primarily on me) and gratitude (to be entrusted with such utter vulnerability somehow must mean, or so my deluded feelings say, that I am a trustable person).
Of course, Adam has never seen a river, never set eyes on the stars at night or the moon. He hasn’t perhaps even properly seen me or A, as his eyes are not yet operating at that level. Even if he could see, with Paris’ sullen weather and these chill evenings, he isn’t going outside to gaze at the cosmos. Myself, it wasn’t until I was a boy – seven or eight – that I really started dreaming of rivers. The nightly bath was the Amazon. The stream in the woods near our house was the Mississippi. However, I was a suburban Atlanta kid, and never ever imagined the Seine – which will, to my everlasting astonishment, be Adam’s first river. His second will be the Chattahoochee… just so he doesn’t get the idea that a river is always such a civilized thing, so easily spanned by old bridges, so tame, but a thing that is still of the New World, can flood, can carry uprooted trees and flooded houses down with it, and will not be taken for granted by God, babe, or the Corps of Engineers.