I’m where I first saw you. The pub. The Cormorant, it’s called. Do you remember?
It sticks to me this time – this battered couch – in a way it could never have done before. Curling up around me, its cold leather touch reaches around the bare flesh of my arms to touch my chest. Reminding me. Reminding me of what I have done.
It couldn’t have done that before. Before, when our bodies barely possessed the weight to keep our hearts tethered to the ground. In that time, we floated, dizzied by promise of a wholeness; giddied as veal claves liberated from their dark barns of solitude. Yet solemn; solemn in our vows not yet formed in speech that we – we two – were to find ourselves in that expansive and eternal space and time between two bodies that could not help but touch,
Touch without meaning or intention, but touch only for the sake of touch itself. The unquestionable nature of our need to touch. That was it. That was all we needed for sureness; for stillness to move between us unchallenged.
I stay afloat, atop the couch and watch the bodies at play. I wonder if some of them have what we had. They couldn’t possibly, could they? And then the guilt hits me in the stomach. For I have no right, do I? To summon the ‘we’ of the ‘we had’; to even speak of us as a wholeness that was. For I think of what I have done. How I have left you diminished; apart; in parts; as pieces of parts; and, at the end, just pieces; “in pieces”, they say.
I look at the seat beside me and I know that if you were here with me now in this present time – this time after the lightness before – you would sink all the way through, feeling every pound of the pressure from above. You would disappear, swallowed by the leather and I would remain, still regarding the world, largely untouched.
If you returned to me,
Beside me in time,
Your body altered, welded to an absolute weight that it was unable to bear, I’d try to give you my slickness, my oily skin that seems so efficiently to repel the heavy; to render it mute.
But even in the face of a gift offered in good intention, different bodies’ skins can become opposed, desire negated, poles apart. I couldn’t give that gift to you now, I’m sure. No words or touch could suffice.
Sometimes there is a pressure around my eyes and I reach for it to try to dwell with what I have done. But in the moment I turn to face it, it fades and the lightness returns to me. I sit regarding, I sit whole, I sit with a future I can touch.
I can’t say the same of you.
I had to force you to be mine, for you were wild back then, too wild by far to fall for my flailing charm, too sure of your purpose to wait for a moment to see if I might, just might, be able to come on to land to expunge the salt water from my lungs and drag myself into the air.
I spent days and nights imagining what you looked like sleeping, in that time before; before you let me see it for myself.
It didn’t seem possible that you would follow common forms. In my dreams, I saw you through a thick haze of sandalwood and orange blossom from a crack in your wall, my body restrained by mortar, my vision free to travel. You flickered in your bed; flickered with the might of movement, each perfect thought aligning your body with the most isolated constellations, the stars and their promise pulling gently on your limbs, stretching you out, each sun sated by the force your gravity gave to it.
In this interplay your mind would travel. It would see bare soil but for only an instant before it flourished with life.
With no thought for yourself, your breath escaped from your four walls and worked to reconnect those who had become lost.
Its first task was to nourish all bushes of thorns, rushing up their stems and quietening their desire to scratch. With you, their needles were subsumed back into their stems and they became sympathetic to the rhythms of the forest, opening up new avenues of movement. And of story-telling.
In the spring, all the foxes of the world thanked you with a nightly song for softening the bed of their slumber. Encased too, within pillows of moss, their calls reached back to you and you smiled in your sleep, their peace nourishing yours, the heat of their bodies shared with you across space without the possibility of any cold to come.
But you didn’t know that I knew.
You didn’t think I could see you there.
So I set you a trap, with a broken finger as its bait.
Do you remember my finger, how it called you to come? Called you to care?
I did it myself.
Did you know?
Know that I cracked it with all the might I possessed, and when I heard it splinter I knew you would come? For I knew that my pain would ensnare you, that you would cease to worry that perhaps I couldn’t exist on land.
And it worked.
The orange haze began to lift from your room and you no longer flickered at night. I poured out of that crack and began to fill the rhythms of that space.
And of your life.
I pulled at you with the best of intentions and suddenly you were of the earth.
You were tame,
And the stillness between us was gone,
And I scratched myself on a thorn,
And the foxes no longer called at night.