Reflections of a History Professor Looking Through a Telescope at 4 a.m., Part III


One day you’re holding your infant

daughter and thinking of all the tasks

you need to do instead, and the next

you’re grading papers in the audience

of her choral performance, and then

you’re pausing in your typing, pretending

interest in her latest artwork or school essay

on the similarities between the Odyssey

and Huckleberry Finn.


A little later you notice she no longer

pauses at the study door; she passes

without speaking and goes into the

bedroom to talk things over with

her mother—the bedroom where your

wife spends her late afternoons and

evenings after work while you’re secluded

in your study typing away at some

manuscript or other—and you wonder

what they’re talking about.


When your daughter does say something to you

everything is “fine” and then she darts

up the stairs to her room.


You pick up on little things that you aren’t

directly involved in or consulted on: the

constantly shifting composition of 9th grade

friendships, the wrong style of hair or clothes,

slammed bedroom doors,

slammed car doors,

awkward teenage bodies growing in

all the wrong ways,

periods, acne, braces,

gangly teenage boys with pimples

showing up at your door, and then later

the teenagers learn to drive and she’s

out the door with only the briefest of

introductions or explanation of plans

for the evening, and you look at your wife

and she turns and goes

back to her bedroom without a word.


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