Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter Walk

We walked and although it was cold and there were few reasons to be in love, we were and the cold did not perturb us. The road lay ahead, straight and stretching toward dusk, trapped beneath grey ice. I held your small hand in my pocket and shortened my steps for you as we walked down evening’s throat. You talked of superstition and when you did our hands were the only parts of us that touched. I said to you that since I gave up superstition I have had a hole in my chest and am not afraid of anything. You seemed to understand, but you looked at the idea as though it were an object that you had been forbidden to touch.

There was a pause in our exchange. The light continued to ebb away around us and all that could be heard was the croak of snow beneath our feet. I watched you as you looked ahead, your skin lay across the bones of your face as the snow did over the old world behind. So young, I thought. Like me. I said that I had met somebody else. You turned to me like a wind whipped flag and your face collapsed into some bullet-wound expression. He makes me feel useless, I said, and that’s what I have always wanted. No, it’s not physical, it’s vital. The accident of gender is no obstacle to the pursuits of an eager heart. You asked me where this left you and I replied, the very place that I have always left you; in your flagitious bauble of a world, counting things, stockpiling platitudes, admiring views. Nothing has changed.

By now, darkness had laid its weight across our shoulders and we carried it with us like a yolk. Beside the road, a bird took flight from a sagging wire and curled away into the new night. You pulled your hand from my pocket and formed a distance between us that I made no attempt to bridge. We were nearing the end of the road where the car was parked; I quickened my pace and began to stride toward it, leaving you behind.

I reached the car and pushed the key into the lock, quickly and hard. I put my hand to the door and felt the dead metal on my fingertips. I looked back at you, head down, wilted. The wind surged amongst the tree tops, they billowed like full sails and your hair flew about your face. Ashen clouds skittered desperately across the sky as though chased by some nameless fear. You looked at me across the freezing space which lay between us; your eyes held deep sadness and watered at the rims. I looked down at my bloodless hands and breathed out hard against winter’s edge. Finally, you reached me.