We don’t touch, we never do anymore.
The mattress might as well be an island, a continent, a sea where it’s only safe to float, because the air—spiced and hot—is what holds us in place, what condenses us.
After the accident and so many surgeries, we can still breathe, but the fire left our skin too tender. Even the slightest breeze against our flesh can feel threatening. Doctors said, “The epidermis is only so resilient.” They said, “The healing process will take some time.”
And now, look–your eyes flutter open, pupils the color of hot coffee–and it’s as if each of our irises is threaded together with invisible yarn, unable to look away, to disengage.
“Good morning, Peach Pie,” I say.
Your face is the color of raw hamburger, yet you’ve never looked more beautiful, and so I tell you this.
“I feel like a bag of wax,” you say.
“Not even close. You’re stunning.”
Your lips try twisting into a smile. “Stop with your lies. I look hideous.”
“We look the same.”
“You weren’t burnt as badly.”
“Ah, but you were, and so I was doubly.”
When you swallow air, I can see how difficult such a simple act is for you, how the air burns going down.
“I can’t even touch you,” you say.
“Sure you can.”
“The doctors said—“
Our eyes are what matters. I tell you this without speaking and so we set aside words.
Our eyes become hands, fingertips, lips, and curious tongues. It’s a clumsy, blind man’s game, a search party in utter darkness, yet we work past what reality tells us.
When I enter you, there’s a gasp of foul morning air.
“Oh my god.”
“You can feel me?”
You nod. You say my name. You tell me not to stop. You say, “It’s been such a very long time.”