Whenever I return from the reservation I am filled with images behind my eyes -- flashing, flashing, flashing -- built up over the last eleven years that I have carried these children in my heart. Words and thoughts cannot slow down the constant chatter and everything turns into static. I do not have a net to put these images in, but here are a few newly added images from this past week.
The car mat filled up quickly each day as little boys came from all directions, grasped the hot-wheels in their fists, and began to create new, ever shifting worlds. A place for them to escape. It is a beautiful improvisational game and all you need say is "yes" to be swept up into their reality.
It is when I touch their arms and feel the cigarette scars, harsh in their soft skin. When I reached around them to gather up a new little one and feel how fragile their rib cage is, bending even under my soft touch. When he speaks so quietly that it drowns out everything else. When a four year old opens the cracker package for the two year old perched on their lap -- tiny hands wiping tears off of each other's faces.
My head goes numb.
photograph by Gretchen Shaw, 2009