Untitled #12

     The holidays were over,
and she was staying with her family out west. 
He hadn't heard her voice in months,   
but couldn't resist the chance to call her—  

and nothing between them had changed.
He invited her to jump on a flight to California, 
     and she was there the next day. 

It was the first time they'd seen each other 
     in two years, and from the moment 
he brought her back after picking her up 
at the airport, they couldn’t stay apart. 

He gave her a brief tour of the house, 
but it wasn’t long before it ended in his bedroom, 
and they stole their first kiss just inside 
the door while his grandfather watched t.v. 
in another room; she whispered, 

     "I'm in love with you,"

and he knew she was telling the truth— 
and it was excruciating: she had to fly back 
the next night, and the following morning 
she’d have to fly again, back to Boston 
     to begin her spring semester. 

And on the only night she could be with him, 
they had to lay in separate rooms—anxious 
beyond reason—until his grandfather was asleep. 

Then she got up and went to him, 
     entering as quietly as a cat 
through the open crack he’d left in his door; 

     she slipped under his covers, 
and their breathing as he stripped her apart
was a hissing fuse for a bomb of pleasure 
that could blow the whole house and wake 
his grandfather—so they tiptoed naked 
to the living room where they wouldn’t be heard. 

He pulled a sleeping bag out of the coat closet 
and flayed it open on the carpet in front of the 
fireplace; then he stacked the fireplace with wood, 
lined it with kindling, and set it off. 

The living room erupted with light,
the shadows that concealed their figures 
were devoured instantly, and they fucked the same 
way, as if any skin left in those shadows, 
any pocket of space left between them,
would wedge them even farther apart 
than the 2,557 miles that already 
     separated them. 

Nothing was left untouched or unkissed.
Then they laid together and watched the fire
until they had to sneak back to separate rooms
or risk falling asleep, interlocked, and being
discovered in the morning—still naked.   

It was the only time they ever made love. 

And the next night, he had to drive her back 
to the airport. A viciously cold storm had fallen,
and the rain was cruel as he held her hand 
and walked with her across the tarmac. 

     Their last kiss was painful 
from the blood running cold in their lips, 
so they held it until the suppleness returned, 
until the physical pain wouldn’t have to be the last 
thing they shared; and they closed all the space
between them until the last possible moment 
when all the other passengers had boarded. 

     And when he finally had to let go 
and pull away from her to get her on the plane, 
it was a funeral and they couldn’t breathe. 

She turned and ran up the portable stairs 
that entered the fuselage just behind the cockpit, 
and just before the door was pulled shut, 
     she turned to him and waved. 

She was smiling through a stream of tears, 
and her face had turned so pale that it looked
     as if she was wearing a shroud. 

Then she was gone and he went numb: 
the storm had turned into a black sarcophagus
that was sealing him back inside of his loneliness.

He stood on the wet tarmac and watched the plane 
back out of the gate and turn toward the runway 
with a tow line attached to its tail that was 
tied to a spear stabbed into his heart 
     and tearing it out of him. 

He watched her lift off and didn’t move 
until her flashing beacon was swallowed
by the storm and finally disappeared. 

     Then he drove back to the house
in a torrent of rain and traffic and tears, 
and when he walked in the door, the first 
thing he saw was that the fire was out.
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