It is the price you must pay…

“Yes it’s true,” the cricket said.  “But no matter this small discrepancy.  It is the price you must pay for this type of love…one of the seven types of love…  Although that is a tale for another time…”

I fell silent.  Even in my mind, no thought formed itself into words.

Sailor closed her eyes remorsefully.  She would have reached out to touch me, but she did not.  She kept her hands on her lap, her body curled, her space small.

“You still have one question,” said the cricket.

“What if I don’t?” asked Sailor.

“What do you mean,” asked the cricket, “You must want to know something!”

“What I mean is…what I really have is not so much a question…as a wish.”

“No matter; they are the same,” said the cricket.

 

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The Scales

It was always I who did the talking, and she who stared with fascinated eyes…  It was I who poured myself out to her, and she who listened.  That was how I knew I loved her more.  With my mouth attached to my heart, I gave away my love in endless babble; it was all I could do to force a moment’s pause, to hold my breath for an instant before going on.  I needed to tell her everything..everything.  And she so graciously accepted.  And she loved me passionately…but not the way I loved her.  Not the way my world was turned upside down, the way I breathed and walked in a state of colliding ecstasy and despair.

Neither lover desires their part in this unequal relation.  The lover who loves more only wants his lover to love him as much…and the lover who loves less wishes subtly for the transformation of her lover into something more.  That same lover wishes she had no such wish…and bitterly guards the secret knowledge that her love is the smaller of two flames.

Cheat (The Second Touch)

And who loves the other more? 

No!  How could I have asked that?  …I just took the question for myself.  I’m so so sorry. I…

“It’s too late.  Look to yourself,” the cricket said,   “You know the answer.”

My heart sank.  A flood of images, memories, rushed through me, as they had in Sailor’s apartment in New York, just after we’d met.  But now they were not mine, they were hers.  Once again I was inside Sailor, and she was deep in the bowels of the theater, in the green room, in the half light, slung out on the sofa, books and newspapers piled all around, half naked, fucking….

With my eyes still open, the present moment now layered into my strange vision, I could see that Sailor was asleep, yet restless, uncomfortable.

 

(Back Door:  Enter Sideways, Their limbs twined together, Pea Green Easy Chair or Turbulence (The First Touch) into the search bar.)

We reclined in the soft, dry grass

We reclined in the soft, dry grass, and looked up into the vaulted labyrinth of blonde roots, clustered with mushrooms, edged by emerald-colored moss, and packed with rich, dark earth.  The red cricket emerged from the earth, crawled to a prominent, knotty turn in one of the roots, and stopped, as if surveying us.

The cricket spoke.  Sailor and I lay frozen in awe.

“I shall grant you three questions,” the cricket said.  “What is it you would like to know?”

Nest

Dried grass rustled beneath our feet as we stepped down into the hollow.  Overhead the blonde roots made a deep, vaulted ceiling, studded with mushrooms and textured with moss.  Still cold from the rain outside, we huddled.   The space was warm, and soon our shivers dissolved, and our clothes began to dry.  Although there was no torch or fire in sight, a golden light bathed the hollow.  The light seemed to come from the roots overhead. Nestled into the dried grass, we fell fast asleep, holding each other in a spooning embrace.

We slept for what seemed like hours.  I do not know whether we made love, or dreamed that we made love, or both…but I do know that my body became a rigid crescent, and that her body enfolded mine…and that her softness nourished me, and that my blood surged within that softness.

Later, Sailor’s body became hard…and she shuddered, and cried.  Afterwards we were both soft together, our cheeks hot, our bodies locked tight.

Then we were conscious, and our clothes were dry again, and soft against our skin.  We sat upright in the hollow, and stared into each other’s eyes.  As we did I felt an echo of the surge I’d felt before.  My body was hard again, and I knew that I had held my potency.

Sailor smiled.

Mountains

Traffic thinned in the high country.

“There’s no room for a statie to turn around out here.  You can open it up.  Once we get into those mountains, it’s deputies in SUVs…but until then, we’re solid,” Sailor said.  She stubbed out her cigarette on the ashtray, shifted her hips forward in her seat, and placed her hands behind her head.  I pushed down the gas pedal.

We kept the windows rolled down.  The cool alpine air rushed in, tousling Sailor’s hair.  Peering through the glare of late-afternoon sunshine on the dusty, bug-covered windshield, I could see near-flat, open fields, and mile upon mile of pale green, unharvested hay.  Scattered farm buildings broke apart the landscape, their walls worn down to the bare boards.  In the distance, towering up, making those outbuildings look like miniatures, stood the mountains.  They were stark, roughly snow-capped, purple-black.  They stood so far away, and yet were wrought in such sharp detail that they seemed unreal.

“…the fuck?” I whispered.  I took a breath.  I felt disbelief.

“I know,” Sailor said, “nobody knows they’re here.”

As our little car tore across the dusty plateau, she explained to me that there are some high mountains you cannot see, even from very close, because they are set just far enough back from the foothills that no line of sight permits a view.  But once a person climbs past the initial threshold of elevation, up onto the plateau, the mountains emerge suddenly, starkly, filling the sky.

I stared.

“We can stay up here for awhile,” Sailor said, “It’s cheap to live.  We can hide out.”

We had money we’d kept from Harlin; big paying tops that he’d never skimmed, a glovebox stuffed with a profligate’s ransom, enough hard cash to get us into a cabin near a little lake that Sailor knew about way up in the mountains.  She and her sister had vacationed there as children…until the winter her father broke both of his legs in a skiing accident.  He never spoke of it; they’d simply never returned.

With the car tucked into a trough-like driveway beside the cabin, and my heavy duffel and Sailor’s big backpack cast down on the bed, we made our way down the gravel road that wound around the lake to a little fake chalet where tourists could sit on a deck and look out across the glass-green water, into the mountains beyond.  We sat there and drank cold beer, smoked cigarettes, and stared out…as if the air could quench our bodies, as if our very skins could dissolve into the dusk.

rated x, part three

…the moment when I am with you…and we lose track of time and space; we rotate and tumble; we become each other; we are sweat and skin; we are liquid; we are ether…

until again we materialize…propel ourselves deeper into the dark, whirling corridors of eyes…

…so that when we sit on the cement grit of my stoop on the other side of that reality…when we drink our coffee, and smoke our cigarettes, me in my jeans and you in fresh cotton…(when the “morning is cold, and bright, like we need it”…)

…when we look up into the sky and watch a skiff of gray cloud…and shiver in the air that sweeps our skin before light rain sprinkles the fabric of our sleeves…

…we know we’ve been somewhere.

(Back Door:  Enter rated x, part two into the search bar.)

(Please note: the quote above is from the music of David Eugene Edwards and Woven Hand,  whose lyrics can be heard in the Wim Vandeykeybus/Ultima Vez dance film entitled Blush.)