You and I, we were beside a deep tide pool. A rock cliff towered
gray and cold above us, but the sun was rising over the water,
so there was no shadow, no shade. The cliff was high and the beach
was wide and our pool was deep, though all the other tide pools
were shallow and warm. Ours was a bowl, a teacup of still cold
water. We sat,
looked into the bowl, but first could only see the surface. Hard
and tight and smooth, the line where air met water seemed flawless.
Only then one slender creature, one insect like a stray hair, creased
the smooth. I set my eyes to look in, shifted my eyes and saw beneath,
and the insect melted away in a moment. Deep and down was the bottom,
was the color of the floor, was a bed of flowers.
A bowl deep with anemones, thick blossoms. All the colors of chrysanthemums,
golds and purples, mums bunched closely in a fist, leaving no room,
no place to slide a finger between, no way to pluck. A deep bowl
of petals, and we beside the bowl. Beside the teacup’s steep
rim. Me with my legs crossed beside me and you crouched like a
cat, aimless and intent, hungry with no fish to follow, eyes darting.
I reached out an arm, couldn’t help it, pointed a finger,
and the water swallowed my hand. We were full of open mouths, full
of sun on shoulders and wonder and silence. We reached my finger
down to grace a petal and the garden shivered. The petal was soft
and she folded or withdrew or died.
We carved a path with our faintest touch, drew a light line with
the back of my hand. I waved. The touch was almost something else,
so faint as to resemble another sense. The back of my hand saw
the flowers, my skin heard each petal, smelled each distinct moment
of folding inward. But no pressure, no weight. We carved lightly,
accidentally, and the color of the path we made was darker somehow,
like velvet pushed the other way.
Then there was a man above us, naked in the sun., a landscape
of bones and dark hair, so little like our bowl of color, our bed
of water, our faint touch. His body was a voice, a rude noise,
so much a naked man.
The man tried to kneel beside the bowl, but changed his mind.
He paused, straightened and then walked down the beach, his arms
crossed over his chest as though to contain something.
The bowl was still there but the day was changing. The insect
was back, the sun was behind a cloud and the flowers were very
far away. When we wondered where the man had gone to, we had to