The blond kids up on Harrison Hill continue drifting in their blue swimming pools, while Mexican workers doze on ladders in the sooty fruit orchards, their burlap bags slipping to the ground. Nothing much was happening to start with at the big Catholic and Mormon and Episcopalian and Methodist and Baptist and Presbyterian churches, but in the tiny new churches that are continually forming and separating at any time of day—so many that Sunnyside is in the Guinness Book of World Records the congregations begin to snore right in their folding chairs.
This hush while I wait for my mother to call the true tale of my origins up from hibernation carries out of town, past Old Doc Querin's big animal practice, past the huge Dutch dairies with their tin-roofed barns, past fields strung high and beaded with hops. It wafts along the restricted road to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where the plutonium for Hiroshima and Nagasaki was finished before being shipped to Los Alamos and people say that strange, new insects breed in the chalky limestone. It floats by the Moore farm with its collapsing barn and twelve kids, the Kludas farm with its narrow lambing shed and single giant son, and my grandparents' farm wedged in between. For once the woodpecker attacking their trees is quiet, enjoying the bright pink blossoms on the thorny Hawthorn, the heart-shaped leaves of the Catalpa, the drooping Weeping Willow. The silence wends along the irrigation ditch to the asparagus fields at the tiny airport, the same fields where my mother walked barefoot in 1962, the soil damp between her toes, and considered killing herself and her unborn child.
"I need the form that shows you have custody of me," I repeat, in case my mother didn't hear me. A permission slip for a study program in Mexico rests on the sofa cushion between us.
A few minutes ago, when I announced that the study program requires the signatures of both parents—unless one can prove sole custody my mother grunted, setting the spell. Now her eyes contemplate the ceiling, blue specks beneath a field of gently waving cowlicks.