“I love you, too,” she said, because she speaks the language of my eyes and I sink into the words like a blanket of moss beneath my hands. Soft. Certain. Steady. It might have been the first time, or the fiftieth, or that time where we have lost track of the number of times we have stated complex emotions in language as restrictive as “love.” Heard fresh but resonate. Yes.
She came out of nowhere, unexpected the way the tide is unexpected if you don’t know what to look for. I’ve been watching the currents but the undertow still took me by surprise. I remember standing in his kitchen, trying to describe her and grasping for language.
“She is…” I fought for the words that wouldn’t seem cliche or trite. “When you see her, at first, across the space, she is this small, petite woman, feminine, beautiful, unassuming. She seems…almost fragile at first, but then you catch a glimpse of her eyes and she is-” I can see him nodding in my peripheral vision before I can even finish the sentence. “-anything but.” He is still nodding. He knows.
She is the sound of poetry breathing, her skin colliding with the air in a symphony of language that is just beneath the surface of words. I remember the first time my hands began to learn with her body, plunged into the depths of rivers and warmed in the tempestuous brushfires. Hard grabs, slow builds. A gasp. Yes.
She is yes. The word, the action, the movement, the decision. Yes. It is affirmation and camaraderie. I see you and also, we are in this together. Sitting under the swingsets, yes.
“I like your shirt,” she says.
“You can’t steal it,” I reply.
“Ever?” she says.
“On your way from my bed to the bathroom, maybe.”
I am shocked at the words, assumptive and brazen as they are, because they feel right against my tongue. We are both so cautious here, for different reasons. But even the slowest of footsteps lead us somewhere. I bury my head into my knees and feels the firmness of the ground beneath me. She brings me close, so close to flying.
I remember how we learned to touch, hands on skin, slowly. It was hard, but hard is not de facto bad. Sometimes real is hard, the convergence of emotion cascading in complex expressions passed across small spaces. Her hand on my cheek. My fingers brushing the edge of her shoulder. Yes.
Yes. Over and over again, yes. The deliberate action of choice and affirmation. Another step, yes. Can I…? Yes. Questions with eyes and lips and words and fingertips. Yeah.
“What does it feel like?” she asks. “Tell me something you didn’t say today.”
I like watching her out of the context of me, her self existing in ways that I do not bring out. His head in her lap, cupped gently in her hands. She looks down at him, full of love and the necessity of cruelty held in tandem across her face. She pours the blood slowly, her world consisting of nothing but him in that moment and I feel the golden line that pulses between me and them vibrate, a heartbeat holding me to this space, outside of this moment and yet still integrally connected.
Hard eyes, easy smiles. The joy in simplicity, the strength of complexity. She is poetry breathing, words strung together and broken lines building layers upon layers of meaning emerging. Yes. She is yes, and laughter, and the sense of sinking in, laying back and soaking in the complication. The elegance of theory, the mess of entanglement, and the sharp, clean edge that demands authenticity. She is the air, sharp and clear, in motion whether or not we detect the way it slides along our skin.
The way her face collapses into itself as she relaxes into sensation, the guards of herself strengthened as she sinks into the air. He moves her beautifully and she is present differently, somewhere alone inside herself even as her body shifts and moves. This is hers, and hers alone, even as she shares the strength of her skin with him. Captivated, not captive. I cannot look away.
And my heart stirs, the rustling leaves in autumn, the slow fire building always, breathing her in as she dances along the edges. Slow smiles, another small footstep forward. She holds herself present here, more present than I have seen her when her feet have left the ground, inviting and allowing me into this space that belongs to her, a sliver of herself that she presses outward with an open hand outstretched. I grasp it, the action and movement of yes, of acceptance, of choice, and open my eyes to see her flying there, my hands woven into the structures that hold her momentarily. A glance with her eyes, the texture of her cheek against my palm. She is anything but fragile.