image: Harper Kelsey
It happened in my own house, in the Room with Seven Windows. From the darkness, the giant emerged. Big, black, and formless, he ducked his head and came crawling into the room with me. His body was a mass of black that filled the room to the ceiling and blocked the windows. The room felt colder, like he had brought some winter in with him. I realized he was bundled up in coats and layers of black cloth. Only his nose and his eyes were visible. He had a long nose with a flat round tip. His head and face were wrapped in ribbons and the nose stuck out like a branch... So… I could see his nose… And I could see his eyes with white sparks in them. I couldn’t see anything else clearly.
I was afraid. I didn’t know if he saw me sitting up still as possible on the hard mattress. My ears were buzzing. I was holding my breath. I let it out slowly.
From somewhere, a soft light appeared. We both seemed to notice a baby on the table at the same time. A sudden pale shape in the shadows, I don’t think she was there before. She was naked… exposed… and the giant fluttered his big gloved hands in concern as he bent over her. I heard the wind of his sigh. He pulled off his gloves and laid them beside her on the table. I had thought the gloves were black like his clothes and the strange turban that hid his face. But the baby’s skin seemed to glow a little in the moonlight, and I could see that the gloves were not black like I’d thought. They were actually purple, and other colors too.
What a beautiful baby, I thought. I mean, she glowed! It was more than a trick of the moon. The soft light played around her as she grabbed her own feet and rocked herself. She smiled. Her stomach pulsed in-and-out in a little laugh.
The giant seemed fascinated by the baby. He looked away for just a moment and saw me in the corner. I stayed still, my heart thumping. He looked away and stared at the baby. He fluttered his huge hands again. He began unwrapping the rolls of wool ribbon over his head and face, while his bright sparky eyes stayed fixed on her.
The giant’s hands themselves were remarkable. They were dark and smooth like the hands of big statues. I felt like a little kid watching the hands of my father. The giant had beautiful hands that circled the head and gathered up the cloth in a graceful, magician’s gesture.
I could see the giant’s face. It was deeply lined and wrinkled. I changed my mind. He was not a he, but a she. A black cloud of hair that’d been hidden under the turban uncoiled in all directions and it was laced with grey. She used the long wool ribbon from the turban to bundle the baby and spread her hands as though she were ready to lift it up in her arms… Instead, the hands flew to her shoulders and she swept off her great long coat, and laid it open on the table. The fur lining (even in my seat, my nose was tickled by the pine-tree smell of it), the fur lining made a silver-tipped bed. She laid the glowing child on it.
The giant’s face had made me think she was very old, however the wrinkles seemed to smooth away as she looked at the baby. But I should not say baby. It was a girl. I don’t know why I had thought her an infant before. It was a long girl with the lines of the woman that she promised to be. Her shoulders were pink in the changing light. The bright girl looked lovingly at the dark giant whose luminous eyes returned nothing except love. Yet the big woman seemed upset again by the girl’s nakedness with only the wool ribbon over her. She began to take off the other coats and jackets she’d worn under the great fur-lined coat. The big woman even took off skirts that she wore over her other skirts, and to drape all the layers of fabric over the bright girl, who was now a beautiful young woman herself, with a body glowing through the clothes like a snow hill in moonlight.
For a moment only, the woman who had been a giant and the girl who had been a baby were the same age, and in this moment their shared gaze was so poignant with longing that I felt as though I were balanced on a needle.
Yes, the strange dark giant was growing younger and smaller. Her beauty was equal and unlike the woman on the table. Her beauty whispered about mysteries in all the ways that the other woman’s beauty made promises. Not a giant anymore, she was shrinking as her clothes came off, each layer brighter and more colorful. Soon it was she who stood naked, nothing more than a girl, her terrible confidence gone. The bright woman on the table lifted her into her lap, and the table where they lay was more than a bed of coats, the cast off clothes had made a tent of multicolored silk.
The giant had become a baby… a baby with the same white sparks in her eyes… Swaddled now in turn by the bright woman, the baby seemed to disappear in the blankets. Then I saw, for only a moment, full and round as the sun, the bright woman’s pregnant stomach, before she rose, using a single gesture to cover herself in an amazing robe. The robe was the giant’s coat turned inside out so that the fur was on the outside, bristling like a rainbow cloud. She swept out of the room, the silks of the tent dissolved into the air behind her. She grew larger with each step until she could step over the trees.
It was dawn, and I knew that the miracle I watched was happening again. Again and again. A thousand times over. A thousand million times. In every house, in every valley, in all the countries of the horizon.