You walk out on the crowded hall, down thick-carpeted stairs and into a basement or into the basement’s bathroom where you claim minutes alone. It’s a couple’s retreat. Carnival cruise brand therapy plus new age chest hair. Every night a new theme for the group mixer. Tonight: Casino.
This is where you see them. You sit on the closed toilet lid with your elbows on your knees and lay your jaw against your hands. The first thought is you left the half-eaten cream puff on that napkin upstairs. The second is you’re not alone. They hold each other, still as they can, behind the shower curtain and exhale hard enough that the curtain rustles. Or they slow dance at the basement’s rear corner. And if you’re quiet on the couch and you stop following each reach back for the mixer, you hear sneakers tap concrete.
If they’re bound, it’s by shapelessness. Or also they were open, willing, not quite desperate. Maybe isolation stayed on as supplement. She hums like singing. He dances like the arms, from birth, wanted to grow from another body, every other body.
Let me tell you, this is a love story. It’s a story in rinds. They champion and destroy whatever you give them. They ingest each way. Glue lift and all stretch. Hold the tools hollow, will, or dissolve you with faith.
I’ll wake up one morning in the winter with a mouthful of flu snot and there you’ll stand at the foot of my bed.
Before they trampled this field it was peace from treeline to treeline. Whatever else—rabbits, deer, squirrels, crows, etc.—paused on these branches or passed through the tall grass, they moved. Paused and passed. They never lounged until their shapes imprinted the soil. They never stroked the other’s skin until strokemarks branded them. Never exclaimed with glowing eyes, anything. And I’m trying to rest. I mean settle against the wind and fade. But they call us out. We panic.