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  • Rachel Welcher

Sunsugar



Today there were six ripe tomatoes in my backyard garden. Six tiny, orange orbs; the first of the season. They are called something like Golden Cherry or Sunsugar or Yellow Burst and they taste just like sunshine. I imagine there are more buried within the mass of tangled vines, but I am still a novice gardener and planted my tomatoes too close together. Then, I failed to thin them out, resulting in a jungle of green, with fruit hidden somewhere within.

Hilde watches me pick them, stretched out on her belly on a quilt; eyes squinting in the direct sunlight. She smiles as I bring them over. She always smiles. Everything delights her. She is purely happy, purely content, with no fear in her yet; no self-conscious hesitancy. I admire her and I think I want to be more like her, which is a strange thing to say about a baby, but somehow I think Jesus would agree: let the little children come unto me.

I sit down and bite into each one - giving Hilde the miniature guts - soft and small and enough for her to gum without choking. I am always worried about choking. I’ve watched all the videos on what to do and I am still terrified. She found a small piece of plastic from a wrapper the other day and gagged on it until I fished it out of her mouth. Afterwards, I scoured the entire floor, vacuumed, searched, and wore myself out making sure there wasn’t a single crumb that she could find and put in her mouth. But that was Tuesday, and tomorrow is Friday.

The days are short that I am able to cradle her baby body and whisper into her bird fluff hair: Come here you little stinker. She has already begun to wiggle away, but she does it while smiling, which makes me think that she doesn’t mind the snuggles so much. Her desire to be held often conflicts now with her desire to get away. It’s complicated. Complicated like exploration. Complicated like worry and carpets that never stay clean. Complicated like growing up and still wanting your mother nearby.

Hildegaard always looks like she is trying to fly. And maybe she is. We say, Hilde, we know you have things to do and places to go! And laugh because she is only eight months old. But then she bends her body into the shape of a kite, arms outstretched, and tries to lunge off the couch. It makes me wonder who she will be, what she will do, and what she will remember. I wonder if she will remember how tomatoes taste when they are still warm from the sun. I wonder if she will always love to eat them straight from the vine, without any salt or salad fixings. I wonder if she will sit and smile, just from the joy of living.




Cover image byMarkus Spiske.

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