Sweet Potato Closet Pie.

by Serge Bielanko

As I dip the pink plastic-coated baby spoon into the liquidish sweet potatoes, scoop up the last little bit, and help Violet spread them around her face...I am both nostalgic and sad. Gone are the days forever when Violet's little body was nourished solely on formula that we/her parents mixed for her. Healthy stuff we shook up with our own clenched fists.

This afternoon, with my daughter actually sitting in a highchair, I help smear the last of the containers contents up and down her mug; starting at her lips and then icing her tiny chin and her cheeks. A cherry for her sundae nose! A sweet potato earring! This is cutesy television commercial shit, a dad and daughter giggling through a messy little lunch. Except the daughter here is really my own...not a mini-actress racking up first credits toward her Screen Actor's Guild card. And me: I have no idea how to act the part required. I stare at times, fascinated. Then in a moment, I am saying things like:

"Sweeeeeeeeeeeet Potatooooooooooo! Sweeeeeeet Potatooooooo Piiiiiiie!"


"Here it comes, here's comes Daddy with the spoon, and ....No,honey...don't use your fingers! Ugh. Shit. SHIT!"

A couple seconds of sober clarity get squashed up hard against a long half-minute of sloshed-on-beauty. I see things for what they are: Violet is eating some so-called 'solid' food. I see things for what they aren't necessarily: Violet is slowly sipping this mesmerizing new taste from a dribbled creek on the side of my finger and the experience is being etched into the first pages of The Book Of Her Life with enough Forever Ink to ensure that she will always recall this first real meal with me. And a life of culinary wonders will entail. She could end up a famous chef. Maybe she ends up the next host of BIZARRE FOODS, who knows?

I try hard to keep perspective, but the truth is: for many hours a day it's me and an infant. No one else is chiming in. No one else is even walking past the goddamn house all afternoon. We're way way out there on an island, two specks on the sand to any search planes. So, perspective and all it's practical rewards are rare. Fucking-A rare. I speak to the sun in the sky. I need a dodgeball with a face on it.

And so I guess that's why when I'm making coffee this morning, I notice the cleaned-out sweet potato baby food container laid out atop the dishes I washed last night. Oh my/it's true.

Violet, once when you finished the first solid foods Papa ever fed you, he saved the food packaging. Put it in that giant Tupperware Museum he made for you. The one in the closet with your name block letter'd in purple magic marker. There's a lot of stuff like that in there, sweetie.

Do you wanna see it?

No? You're going to 'the library'? Oh, ok.

That's cool, that's cool.

Someday you might.

Wanna see it, I mean.