“The evening sun loves her throat and her cheekbones. Her hair the color of cliff grass rises and falls across her face in the breeze” ____ Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races
As peaceful as the sea birds that fill the palm fronds, we watch the stars sparkle like diamonds against their velvet backdrop. Listening to the sound of ocean waves rushing ashore, slick sea lions glimmer under the cusp of an orange rind moon. The hours pass softly like the sea breeze. We are not tired but exhilarated. Ruffling his hair, I let my clothing drop to the damp sand, motion to him, follow. Together we vanish in the rolling waves.
An excerpt from The Swallows of Capistrano, a collaboration.
Late in the afternoon I sit at the counter of the small diner sipping vanilla coke watching the day turn into night or dollar green. I am hot and tired and mostly luckless, angry too, my new love dying so soon. I dream myself into a hot soak in a fancy clawed foot bath tub sinking my dusty body beneath lilac scented bubbles. I imagine lying back, my eyes closed, as hot water flicks at rosy nipples. I am what one might call self-employed these days. Settling for a motel shower I scrub my body that smells of dusty magnolias with lilac scented oil until it glimmers like alabaster. Gingerly stepping into a black sheath, slipping on silver seamed stockings and stiletto heels, I make my way onto Bourbon Street. At the corner the sounds of a sax carries through the open door of a dimly lit bar, it drifts up the alley over the faded roof of a sad brothel. From my booth I stare through a prism of glass at the Dog Star and blow a kiss to the man in the moon already yawning at the deep purple sky.
Seeking pleasure in the darkness your fingers outline the etching of a hummingbird sipping from a carafe. There is balance in paradise. Indescribable beauty in the disarray of green parrot feathers. The moon pulls out the last breath of yesterday as your hands close around mine and I guide them where callous meets softness. Desire is a rage as wild as a shock of bursting hibiscus buds. The outline of Palm fronds divide like the chambers of a heart, the sound of waves break in our bones. Our throats are grazed by the winds teeth, our eyes are the color of Bird of Paradise.
In this heat I wonder if I am coherent. Without you I feel a visceral loneliness. When we are together we make small talk about the weather and how the dog still barks when the summer heat forces me to fling open the shutters filling the room with the sweet scent of night blooming jasmine. I tell you that I am still waiting for the oil to dry on the painting that I promised you, acutely aware of the momentum of words and the intense desire for the feel of your hand on my inner thigh. My own hands are worn raw in search of common ground. How can you trust me with your past, the woman in Berlin, that year in Turkey? I am so afraid of implicit truth still I take all you give as though each confidence is not an invasion.
To be honest all I really want is to get drunk on your impossible eyes and draw maps across your belly.
I shower and dress, apply makeup as though I am going to work. I barely recognize my own reflection in the mirror but I am wearing my favorite dress and my hair is the color of rusty nails. I ignore your perplexed expression and questions.
Downtown I meld into the chaotic masses, eyes that are infused with the pain of survival. As the morning wears on relentless chatter becomes an undercurrent of whispers that fade with the crowd. Sweat and strong coffee stings my nostrils, clings to skin. Alien faces are etched behind my eyes.
The familiar girl is propped against the graffiti covered wall that turns golden in the sunset. Her head rests against skeletal arms that wrap around her knees. Jarred by a boot she glances upward from her induced euphoria, fumbles in the pocket of torn jeans fishing out a handful of dollars. Glancing around the man slips it beneath his belt and places a small bag into her weedy fingers that loosen, dropping it between her feet. I wonder how she will sleep in the night cold.
Repelled by the scent of urine, even the pigeons keep their distance and the stray dog lifts his feet. I feel those good intentions rising but they remain contained in my hermit mind. Does it count that I thought of her as she isolates to death?
Making my way back I pass that abandoned garden, pick a flower to playfully slip behind your ear. I rely on distractions these days.
You kiss the back of my neck and once again describe your beloved island and how the sun’s glare bounces off the seas surface and life glides beneath the sparkling blue that spreads over the horizon.
From my deserted garden we share an apple that reminds me of an autumn orchard and a love struck boy whose memory compels me to rub my body against you in search of that trigger, that wild place in my mind that is precious only if it is gone.
At the wharf I lean back against the damp stone wall, sip my drink and yield to the slippery salamander of sea. The moon is a glistening slice of melon, her whisper carries on the wind “moon child I love you too”. Sinking deeper in to my subconscious I watch a velvet sea bird swoop my reflection from silver waves where the sighs of lovers are lost in a monsoon. Old images flicker across my frontal lobe as I liberate sip by sip. That man with the golden veins doesn’t interest me anymore. Later when my pearl skinned body breaks the surface I’ll bring him back again.
In my nest of stones I have not slept. Upstairs the neighbors fight over how best to spend their time as it silently slips through the space between fingers. As the last grains fall it seems reasonable to be present for those hours remaining. The windows are dark in the townhouse across the way but for a lamp shrouded in a rose colored scarf. Stirred by the sound of an ocean breeze I imagine I am a pale warrior charged with the safety of sleeping birds as a cat passes by casually eyeing them from a wire fence. At last when dawn climbs above the ocean I can see deep amber on the shore, the color of my lover’s eyes when aroused. Those subtle hues of gold that glint and sparkle in my half empty glass. I spend my night rearranging decaying books, drifting down smoke filled halls, pillaging my mind.
Autumn leaves have begun to fall.
Late October London is ablaze in hues of orange and purple.
On my bench by the river I daydream that I am an adolescent
reptile escaped from Kafka’s Die Verwandlung, laid back basking in the sun.
The air is layered in heavy cologne but men do not interest me now. I am content to casually observe. To my advantage I know all about them
while they know so little about me.
Thinking of you against my wishes, dying a little, dead all the sweet hope of dreams never realized, I imagine my earthly body padded, sat beside yours on a grassy knoll
Breathing in the scent of lilac and the mossy green River Delta.
In the dark I am nude but for a shadow across my torso.
You are so near and to distract my self from this burning desire
I let my thoughts linger among the lines of Roethe’s “In A Dark Time”.
Years pass and by chance we meet at the sad cafe. I sway in your arms like a fragile birch in an autumn tempest. The halo of my eyes glisten recalling how we gave away what we never really had. We hold each other knowing that love has died and we with it.
Your glass is always half empty, whiskey the color of your eyes when you are aroused. I shut my eyes and fixate on the whir of the overhead fan. When you reach for me I turn away, practicing my “out of body” I look down from above until my eyes close. Later we share a hand rolled cigarette, silently watch the curls rise and rip apart in the blades. Your soft eyes ensnare me, expose my liability. It is so easy to distract you, pulling back the sheets we laugh, make love and pull away. Your eyes are the sparkle of stardust, a boy at the top of a Ferris wheel. I swear to not meet again but my heart is a red sports car racing along a razor’s edge.