She wore black, and a hint of makeup. Her clothes fit tightly against her body, her rounded breasts, the smooth curve of her hips. The collar of her shirt flush against her skin, the neckline modest but offering a glimpse of the top of the curving of her breasts. Her face was round and generous, her lips not overfull, but ample. She had two voices: an assertive, informing tone, and a softer, anxious one that belied a weariness. To hear this second voice was evidence of intimacy.
She sat against the bulging leather of the couch, as it could only fully be occupied by leaning back against the tilted frame. She had beautiful feet, long and tapering. Her eyes were deep blue and intelligent, when the cast of sleep wasn’t creeping in, as it was now. It was late, and they had not known each other for very long. She was very healthy, and this showed in the glow of her skin, her round shoulders, ripe with the glaze of that North American summer humidity which added a layer of reflection to the deeper invitation of her arms. She was happy with her beauty tonight, and he was happy to hear the edge of the informing voice wearing away with the effect of the drinks. He was wearing a t-shirt and ripped jeans, in some contrast with the black cotton of her strapped top. He was thin, perhaps slightly malnourished, but this was a vogue he had lately come to accept when necessity had forced it upon him.
He sat on the couch beside her—they could then both look out on a scene in front of them—perhaps images sliding across a screen, a movie, a romantic comedy set in
The movie was helping them reinforce their common sense and the decency they both firmly believed they had. The warmth and gentle humor of the film was having its effect on them, but they didn’t hesitate to interrupt the scenes to talk trash. Both had seen it before, and it was decided upon as some kind of safe encouragement to their own feelings.
But as he began to look at her more and more, she noticed that he was staring at her almost as much as he was watching the movie. Would it be nice if I held her hand? He reached over in a single motion to catch it up. He was learning to accept the comfort that was a common and uniting touch: two hands, his right, and her left, caught up smoothly. He was looking at her a little, but moving back and forth from the TV to her eyes, while she watched the screen more intensely so she could sense more from his fingers. Her hand met his with some pressure, and this was a first figure. He began with her hand, he raised it to his lips, and kissed the skin along its back, only a tiny bit more rough than the smoothness of his lip. He kissed her hand, kept his dry but warm lips on the back, held it for a moment, and then their eyes locked.
And could it be that, for the next hour and a half, the confirmation of their eyes would remain unbroken? Would he stare awkwardly, or continue to stay present through what both were now caught up in? This was important. She took her hand away from his lips and began to run her fingers gently through his hair, enjoying its texture while bracing and caressing his head, back and forth above his ear. He could close his eyes, head tilted like a cat. They would make love with the embellishments of their care for their animals, and here was an animal left too long on intellectual escarpments, where the wind can easily poison the springs, dry out the current-carrying waters of mute, insistent proximity. It was her bare shoulder that drew him in, and he moved then, turning slightly towards her, and she in turn moved her head away, where she could not longer see the screen. Perhaps both of them remarked later that it was not a love scene at the time he began his overtures to her lips; no, the two movie characters were in the midst of travels to family or in aid of friends, or dealing with the impossibilities of their longstanding office jobs. And he kissed her gently, with some intention, opening his mouth to lightly lick the round union of arm and shoulder. His knowledge would, from now on and into some unforeseeable future, be solely in terms of this exchange, this mouth and its hunger for tactility, and this mutual sense of progression. She would know when to turn to him, when to embrace, when to move forward, and he would know immediately when to pull her close against him, when to part the cloth from the small of her back and caress her there, rubbing skin and muscle until supple and charged. She would explore the hollows, the ridges, the bony, bumpy parts of his chest, sometimes too much like dough, sometimes too crooked with bone, but it was her intuition that told her that this was the human landscape, and that it was his made its story a long and enriching one. The knots in his forearm accepted her touch. And as he was bracing her hips their lips and eyes met again in a flash, now settling into a constant illumination, and he was feeling the sense of the new and the whole. She was reading a well-ripened novel of endurance and strength in him. They were far too old for fumbling, or for inconsequential reserve. This was ritual exchange. This was communion. Take of this body’s store of light, and find where it has been locked away. These bumps are no secret chambers, merely evidence of a longstanding allergy to that with which it has been consigned to survive. And for her, it was a desire that had lain for a long time with the pain of separation, the loss of that first great hope of continuous partnership and delight that came with their ability and intelligence. This was the affection that appears after having failed a perilous promise, having felt the sting of a wind that divides person from person.
Now their lips were soft against each others’, and their tongues, not rushing and devouring, but close in wet transfer, a gift of vital liquor. It was the consonance of their minds that opened the body outwards toward the other. Kisses and caresses, the rising blood of desire, the confirmation of pith and fiber, the long rolling waves of sea and rock. That was the shoreline along which they walked, half in the waters, half treading along the firm sand molded by diastolic waves. Lovemaking came with the rising up and disposal of clothes, with honor to the beauty of the brassiere, and with a torquing twist of his chest hairs, then along the downy fur across his stomach. She pushed against his soft belly as he cradled her body flung backward over the dark of surf. Hair and skin, sweat and precipitate, motion and motion, clasping and ballet, gymnastics and horticulture, the earth held in the spread of the gardener’s hands, the magnetic force of the moon, the piercing of all distances separating them from a low receding earth thinning toward the coastlines.
Of this lovemaking there can only be a trace of letters, informing of what it is not. To provide the images that surround a dream of what it was—nothing medically, mediately verifiable—in that the path from A to B can be any possible path, is to show nothing more but that certain contiguous waves are more in phase with each other than not, and can thus create a greater wave by amplification. What it is not is what is amplified by the lie of the letters across the screen or that rare inked page. Every text is a text of subterfuge, as it unwinds and then binds the actuality of the experience it shores up, and protects. There is no scientific wrestling in the scene of love’s actuality. The poet approaches this, and there are petals and angels falling to one side or the other. There is the sense of bleached bones.