and then a rush of air

It is the afternoon when we are drinking tea by the window. Do you have to sit so close he says as I dig my toes into the couch cushion beneath him. I like to be near I say wrapping my fingers around his wrist. I take his warmth and make it mine.

Then we are sitting in the window in camouflage. And then I fell he tells his brother.

I couldn’t cook and my legs went numb. I almost-cried for three hours waiting for the water to come and it was significant and real and holy just to feel something, you know?

And then he closed his eyes and fell.

And then he fell.

And then on the airplane he shook and I held his hand while he moved his eyes back and forth across the cloth seat, his face sweating, his mouth taking note of each breath. And then he panicked when his legs didn’t work. And then we both prayed for the oxygen to come and come quickly. And then it came.

And then a rush of air.

How do you feel I said, his hands clammy, his face red. Happy he said I feel happy.

I remembered the good things he said.

I like to sit like this because this is how were sitting when I realized I wasn’t alone. like this with your hand over my hand and my finger against your palm like this. No like this, he said, moving my forefinger to the inside of his joints. See? he said.

But how do you know? he said.

How do i know what?

What do you remember when the darkness comes?

I remember the time my tooth fell out and you said you liked me better now. You said smile over there by the bakery and then made me laugh until the gap showed. I remember the hallway and the diagram and your thigh. I remember the clearing in the woods, the circle behind the house we didn’t love but the fire we did. I remember the windows frozen shut; the outside encroaching on the inside. I remember spindle your pet cactus, whom you loved. How you carried him home from college, setting him on the spine of the sink and watching him grow then wither.

He is crying now and I am watching him cry.

And Ireland he said. Do you remember the fish and the beer and all the green and the secret park and the mansion? And the night we went dancing? How you linked your finger through my belt loop and followed me around all night asking me again to show you how to move your bones. Like this I said taking my hands to your hips.

I nod my head softly.

And then it is my turn to bleed. I tell him how I sat on a rock with the phone to my ear and said mother he is free now but I am not free and there is a pain and it is alive and breathing.

She said it’s just a new muscle and he’s learning to use it.

She said dear god be good to me for my boat is so small and the sea so wide.

And then I cried in the window sill. And then the stairwell. Sister said sweetpea be good to yourself.

I don’t want to go home I tell her home is where the hurt is.

So i walk the streets looking into the faces of strangers and asking them if they’ve mourned before.

And then i go home and I can see his feet and a book about death in his lap and I’m mad and I curl into him burrowing my head deep into his chest. Why did you say that I say that you’d be okay when you know the world is heavy and harmful and not okay?

I didn’t mean it he says pressing my forehead with his fingers. I meant he says that we can talk about things and you are not far away from me and won’t be. I meant that we are a boat and this is the sea.