‘Parental Fade’ by Polly Rosenwaike

I have lost count of how many times I’ve read Polly Rosenwaike’s collection. I love the way she writes so beautifully and so tenderly about the interior lives of women and love; it speaks to me very much. It’s hard to choose between my two favourites – ‘Tanglewood’, about a woman meeting the unrequited love of her student days many years later, and ‘Parental Fade’. But I’ve gone for ‘Parental Fade’, because it’s just timeless and pitch perfect. It’s written in the first-person plural, about a couple trying to sleep train their newborn baby. In her beautiful, spare prose, Rosenwaike captures all the exhaustion and magic of that sleep-deprived newborn baby time in such a poignant way, as the couple takes it in turns to sit by the baby’s crib, thinking about the future and a time when all this will have faded, like “jeans and hair dye. Paper and summer. Music, clapping, laughter.” The ending of this story is just so, so beautiful, it truly did bring tears to my eyes.

First published in the New Delta Review, 2013, and available to read here. Collected in Look How Happy I’m Making You, Doubleday 2019