What my grandson was looking at

What do babies see when they stare at the ceiling? Scott Barton wonders if it might be the memories of loved ones they never get to meet.

Photo by Alex Bodini on Unsplash

I want to know
what my grandson
was looking at,
as he lay on his back,
after awakening
from a too-short nap
for a four-month-old.

I walked in quietly
and squatted down,
and he was on his back,
looking up —
to my mind, at least,
at just the ceiling —
but every once in a while
cracking a big smile.

Now, I know that
he smiles in response to
someone else’s smiling.
(I also know that he
had already passed gas.)
So who was up there,
whom my adult vision
simply could not see?

I’m pretty sure
that this babe,
uncluttered by the possible,
saw, when visited,
perhaps my mother
or my wife’s mother —
his great-grandmothers,
or my father
or my wife’s father —
his great grandfathers,
or his paternal grandmother,
or his great-uncle,
or any number of other people
who might have loved him,
some of whom also loved me,
cracking their own smiles.

Go ahead,
tell me I’m delusional.
But I was there.
I’ll fight to the death
to tell you I’m right.