You can sing Mercedes Benz roughly thirty times in a single hour if you immediately start over again right after you’ve reached the end.
I know because I did it once, in the middle of the night, my voice a whispered shush beside my infant’s ear. I held him in the cup of my arms, my shoulders hunched forward as I swayed back and forth, singing an endless loop. It was the third night in a row where he awoke around two in the morning wailing and refusing comfort. Only one night since I’d held him in front of the swirling air of a box fan and, when he briefly, mercifully paused his screaming, set him down on the floor and yelled, “maybe this fan should be your fucking mother then!” I was losing it.
The song began as a plea, and turned into a meditation. “Oh lord,” I sang, over and over, cradling the tiny aching soul I had created. I must make amends. Again, and again, and again, as his eyes closed and his body stilled. A mantra. A prayer. I’d come to the end and start once more--oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, oh lord--long after he had fallen asleep.
His body, small and heavy, restful in my hands, I kept going, singing the lullaby into the quiet night. Not for the child in my arms, but for myself, the tender, broken part of me, desperate to be held.
Claire Taylor writes poetry, short fiction, and the occasional essay. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous print and online journals including Capsule Stories, Sage Cigarettes Magazine, Dreams Walking, and Canary Literary Journal. She is the creator of Little Thoughts, a monthly newsletter of original stories and poetry for children. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and can be found online at clairemtaylor.com, Twitter @ClaireM_Taylor and Instagram @todayweread.