I took your hockey skates. When your team swelled up, all of your cheeks smoking, I budged from the tree line. I was like a molecule separating from other molecules. You never know it's happening but it's happening all around you all the time. And maybe it doesn't matter. Intensely, I wanted to hold something of yours as my own. I never knew victory so furious, but I never knew men either. I took your skates home to the crusty hollow under the porch and told the frozen darkness my private concerns.
She pulled the shower curtain back, shaking off the wetness. He was clipping his hair in the mirror.
She asked if she could help and stepped in, her feet leaving dirty prints as they found their position. He gave her the comb and scissors.
She straightened the familiar waves so they flattened over his ears and neck. She started to snip. First in straight lines, and then at angles to add dimension.
Strands fell to his shoulders and down to the tub.
They weren't speaking.
When she thought she was finished, she loosened his hair, watching where the waves fell now.
"Perfect," she said as she stepped out onto the bathmat. "You might want to shower off."
She watched him turn the knob. As the water bucketed down over him, his hair hurried along the edges of the tub then gathered near the drain. She said, "Just don't go."
For the Summer
I spent the workday doing personality quizzes and ducking conversation. Then I sped home using my rut on route 128, my keychain rattling. I had two sets of keys that weren't mine. I was trusted. To keep a friend's gallery with one key and feed a neighbor's kittens with another.
When I got home, my husband and brother were already working the Hibachi on the beach.
It was like I was looking at them through a lens that made everything cartoon.
I joined them at the picnic table. The knife wound on my brother's neck had turned into a scar you would only notice when he tanned. My husband, who knew nothing, said, "If I find one needle," and I explained about the variety of ways my brother could use it and hide it.
We each ate our salmon over a puff of mashed potatoes. We each had an appetite.
My brother tried his harmonica for us. My mind wandered. A nearby group played volleyball, and they looked so healthy.
My brother was meeting someone. So my husband and I left the dishes on the counter. "Everything still feels like a cartoon," I said into his lips. My effortless wiggle of joy.