My car door makes a disturbingly loud noise as I shut it
but I have learned not to glance nervously.
Around here I keep my blinders on and my steps confident,
except for a slight falter as I snag steel toe on concrete curb.
I shift the bag on my shoulder and reach for the buzzer,
ringing twice in case you're asleep - legs entangled in tussled sheets,
toothpick still nestled perfectly in the corner of your mouth.
Your neighbor comes, and as always, lets me in for the price of a cigarette.
I traverse the hallway quickly
and enter your apartment with a smooth practiced grace,
for this is not the place to show weakness.
I step inside, shut and LOCK the door, grinning to myself
because I want to point out to you that I remembered this time.
The smell of your cigarettes invades deep into my lungs
and brings a sudden pang because I know they are with you always,
tucked close in some inner pocket.
With a sigh, I deposit the brown paper bag into your refrigerator
and let the weight from my shoulder slump to the floor.
I sink into the couch, the springs digging into my back the way they did that night
we lay here for hours watching movies.
I could have moved, but it was comforting
being close enough to breathe in your smell
and feel the tingling warmth of your body pressed against mine.
A smaller source of heat brings me back to the present
and draws my attention to a candle left burning on the table.
Instinctively I want to blow it out, but I leave it be
knowing how you like to let them burn even though some day
one of your candles will take the apartment down with it.
I also notice a controller left stranded in the middle of the room,
like an anchor with its line running back to the Playstation...
and this reminds me of you lying on this floor one afternoon playing video games,
cursing at the cops giving chase as though they could hear you.
I remember noticing how the cuffs of your jeans rode up,
exposing most of your boots,
and how the back of your neck wrinkled.
Glancing at the clock, I decide it's time to take off my boots
and I loosen each lace in turn - like undoing a corset -
until I can yank one boot off and let it clunk to the floor.
As I attack the second, the lock turns and you walk through the door.
You notice me and smile before your look changes to:
What you're doing right now is all I've wanted to do for hours.
I rip off my other boot and shove over, making room on the couch.
You stand above me, emptying your pockets, pulling out the pack
I envy so much, haphazardly selecting one to light.
Falling heavily beside me, you tackle one row of laces
while I make a fumbling attempt at the other.
Realizing it's hopeless, I leave you to it and instead retrieve
the bacon, egg and cheese and the Raspberry Snapple I left in the fridge.
Your face stills as you ponder why I do such things for you,
and I know that that, that is exactly why.
You eat, toothpick now settled behind your ear,
as I bitch about my train ride and my other life, away from here.
You listen, as you always have, and the tension drains away.
You have that effect on me somehow.
At its departure there is suddenly room for more pleasant stirrings
and I deter you from turning on the t.v. by sliding into your lap.
Straddling your legs, I steal your toothpick
and prepare for the wrestling match to follow.
But this once, you just grin
seemingly aware of where this is all intended to lead anyway.
I grin back and slide the splinter of wood behind my own ear
before leaning in to kiss you.
I linger close, breathing you in, rubbing noses, tracing lines with my tongue
before slowly pulling away with your bottom lip caught between my teeth.
You shake your head because you don't understand the fascination
and I shake mine because I don't think I could manage an explanation.
Instead, my hands find your hips
and my fingers tug at your shirt.
Knowing how ineffectual I will be,
you grab the back and wrench it over your head.
What should be an awkward movement is beautiful...
your muscles rippling sinuously like underwater creatures.
My fingernails slide down your neck, over a nipple,
and to the ticklish spot by your waistband.
You respond with an all-too-quick poke to my ribs before I leap up,
tripping over boots as I laugh my way to your bedroom.
You take your time following, as is your way.
I have trouble thinking of a time
when your deliberately slow walking has vexed me more.
Finally, you close the door behind you,
light one of your ubiquitous candles
and shut off the light.
As you approach the bed, I hear you mumbling:
"Those are going to have to come off..."
the only words needed before your weight settles atop mine.
I've heard it said that you're supposed to play your lover's body
like a musical instrument,
but the sound that our bodies sometimes makes
is nothing like any music I've ever heard.
The first time it happened you said that you had never
made a fart noise with a breast before,
and I tried to explain with glowing cheeks and gasping breathes
that it was the same principle as using your armpit.
But now, instead of blushing or laughing, I smile
because I've come to think of it in these terms: we were made for each other.
Our bodies compliment each others' so well that a vacuum is created,
and the noise that erupts as we pull apart
is a protest to the air rushing between us.
All thoughts end with a sudden quivering
and the next thing I can comprehend
is dueling heartbeats and deep breathing.
I decide that I don't want you to ever get up,
but after a few moments you lift yourself off slowly and sit upright.
You use the candle to light a cigarette before blowing it out,
encasing the room in a velvety blackness.
I can feel you, sitting there in the dark,
and then I can see your outline as you take a deep drag.
You get up to use the bathroom while I rearrange the sheets.
I glance up at the dusky shapes of knives
marching row by row across your wall and wonder
at the absurdness of it all.
Why with you, of all people, everything seems so easy, so effortless?
Why I had to come all the way back here to find this,
this whatever it is that we have?
Why, for once, am I okay with not knowing?
The cherry reappears in the room, bobbing towards me.
Thankfully, you extinguish it before crawling back into bed,
feeling for my body with your hands
and settling into your place between me and the wall.
Murmuring against my forehead,
you grip one of my legs between yours,
push one of your arms beneath my neck
and drape the other over my hip.
I started to protest because I usually sleep on my stomach,
but I deciphered the words "my teddy bear"
so I lie still, thinking this position can't be that bad.
I lay there listening for the moment when you drift into sleep.
I can always tell because you start snoring softly,
like a cat purring in my ear.
I turn my head slightly to avoid the ticklish wisps of your breath
and notice a chalky twilight invading through the window.
Dawn has blossomed, still barely perceptible.
I sink towards sleep
despite the sounds of people walking around in the apartment above us
because my mind is quiet, and my heart is content.
Sometimes, this is all a girl needs.
And I know the memories of these moments
will get me through the days and weeks ahead
spent walking amongst strangers,
until I can once again make my way home.