Tangled within a new argument about the same old thing, we walk side by side along a worn path in the local park. It’s a winter evening and the alabaster sun has slid down into the brush behind us. All day the gray sky hung heavy and low and now the light snow is dusted on the shaggy pines, glistening in the pale fading glow of another day gone by. How many has it been since we last made love? How many since the taste of your kiss contained the truth? Time is a deceitful thing. You think you’ve come so far when suddenly a word is said or a smile is broken or a promise is fractured and you realize nothing has changed at all. That some parts of the human heart move forward while others stay lodged exactly where they’ve always been: stuck somewhere between the throat and the tip of the tongue. In an earlier time perhaps we would have let the little hurtful things slide but not now. Not when so much has been aching for so long. The air between our mouths is cold and the ice around the heart of whatever the matter is is thick.
As we make tracks toward a darkening horizon you fumble for the car keys in your coat pocket. With your other hand you reach sideways without looking up and take mine, and I let you. I try to let you, let you take what you need, let you in, let it be tender. Because as hard as it may be to believe, tenderness does not always come easily to me. Poets are rose petals and knives all mixed up together.
I’m tired of trying to explain and you are tired of trying to figure out where it went wrong so there are no more words, just silence swirling like smoke around our breathing, the scent of damp frozen earth and a campfire in the distance. Beneath the blood in our veins there is the heat of love mixed with a strange kind of trepidation. Pieces of us leaving and not leaving, forgiving and not forgiving. For all the ways we hope to crack open the darkness and bathe ourselves in light, instead we bury what we are afraid to see. The healing we are afraid will destroy us. In the quiet night I hold on to you and do not speak. Our footsteps fall in unison, but the claws of past mistakes are sharp inside us even now.