I come out of the tunnel walking toward the playfields, and there they are. Two tiny people jumping in a big puddle, making magnificent splashes. A grin takes over my face. Their mom is standing watching them, and smiles back – what a great mom, letting her little ones get completely muddy and wet…

I stop to talk, they are so irresistible – little gems of people, tiny faces grinning with impish joy. So beautiful! They remind me of my own children, so many, many years ago.

“Twins?” I ask.

“Yes,” she assents.

“I have 30-year-old twins.”

“You’re kidding! Girls?”

“Yes…”

Instant bond – mothers of twins.

The little ones are in heaven – jumping with all their tiny might, soaked from head to foot, turning every now and then to grin at me and infuse me head to foot with all that brilliant shiny immense joy.

I stay and watch and watch, I can’t tear myself away – they are so like my own little ones, now tremendous big people on their own life trips. I talk with them now and then, and love them mightily…

I ask her all the twin questions – full term? Did you nurse? Yes, she says, they just weaned themselves a few months ago. Oh my goodness – the bliss of nursing – the warmth and contentment – perfect balm for the ragged edges of sleep deprivation and unthinkable responsibility…

“Do you have others?” she asks.

“A boy – younger – yes.”

“Oh, cool!”

“How about you?”

“No – this is it! I’m done.”

“Well – I have to tell you, the boy was soooo easy after the twins – it was wonderful…”

“Yeah – sometimes I’m tempted – but I’m still a little burnt out from that first year.”

Meanwhile the little terrors are jumping and splashing and running, holding hands and turning to look at me, one pixie face grinning behind the other – light beaming out of them to fill the world.

“30-year-old twins!” their mother marvels. “Incredible! Sometimes I wonder how I’ll make it…”

“Oh – you’ll do great, they just get better and better.”

She looks at me gratefully.

“You know,” I confide, “one of mine gave me a huge surprise last year.” Why am I telling her this? Maybe to prepare her for the unlikely…

“Oh?”

“She decided to become a guy.”

“Oh! Really!” her face quickens with enthusiasm. “Cool! Is he going all the way, with surgery and everything?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Wow! Congratulations!” She is a good, good mom.

“Thanks,”  I smile.

I feel a little foolish standing here so long, marveling and gawking and drinking in the beauty and joy of these tiny children, dressed in padded rose and purple Chinese suits. I could stand here all day…

“Well” – I tear myself away – “I’d better be going – Thanks. I’m Trudi,” – extending my hand.

“I’m Jen”– we shake – “Thanks for stopping by and talking, it was great.” She really sounds grateful, and I remember, a little, the loneliness of young motherhood.

On impulse I turn and give her a hug. She hugs me back with a long fierce grip.

“Thank you so much!” she says, meaning it.

“Thank you too” – and I couldn’t mean it more. I wave goodbye to the little ones – and they look at me in that present-moment wonder and then they get it – they are supposed to wave – and they raise their little hands and wave goodbye…

I walk away, toward the house where I live my independent, full, old lady writer life – and I am filled with the thrill of contact with an exotic distant planet, one where I once lived. A place of beauty and danger. And fervent good people. And love. Like all over the world, here too.

And then I feel the most enormous grief overwhelm me – the grief of loss, of those beautiful years when I held close those tiny precious bodies that I would have thrown myself in front of a train to protect. The tears surge down my face and I am weeping all the way home, and all the way to my desk.

Puddle Jumpers

Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards, a poet-bard of Silo’s Message, is the author of "Confessions of Olivia"; "On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo"; "Soft Brushes with Death"; and "Experiences on the Threshold." Exactly two of her poems have ever been published: "Fairies of the Forest," which appeared in the Palo Alto Times "Youth Said It" column in 1957, and "The Great 21st Century Poemic," which appeared in the April 2021 edition of Global Poemic (globalpoemic.wordpress.com). She also edited and published the independent San Francisco newspaper "Human Future" from 1989-1997, and before that co-founded "La Mamelle," a '70s San Francisco arts publication. A graduate of Stanford University, she helped raise several humans from infancy, and is now enjoying their friendship. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.