"You never could have imagined
back then with the waves crashing
what the body could erase."
- Stephen Dunn "The Vanishings"
I stumbled out of a bar to a street I know too well. My shoes fell in dirt, a block of concrete removed to make room for a tree. I leaned against the tree, my head falling back in laughter. I'm so inebriated that I cannot see three feet in front of me. I want a cigarette to warm the tips of my fingers and in my circle of friends we create clouds that roll up to the sky and disappear. I hope she kisses me tonight.
We hang on to each other for support, because it's so funny I can't stand. I could swear we are moving in slow motion. Each laugh is like a howl, our heads thrown back calling to the moon. The ground doesn't hurt, nor do scrapes on my knee, ripped jeans. Stephen Dunn said too much doesn't hurt anymore.
She kisses me on the cheek, like I once saw her do in a picture with someone else. My stomach aches.
Our foreheads are pressed together. My hair sticks to my forehead. My mouth... The air is warmer between us. I have wanted this for so long.
I can see the freckles on her nose. I can see the flecks of green in her eyes. I can see each individual eyelash, closely stuck together, and the delicate skin on her eyelid when she blinks in slow motion. I smile into her mouth.
I can feel her sigh escape into the night.
Each breath is hot and I can see our breath hovering in the cold air. I kiss the edges of her smile and behind us the chaos of kids laughing and falling becomes haze and muffled noise. For one night I am in love and it ends too soon. She escapes into the night.
One day it will vanish, he said, how you felt when you were overwhelmed by her. Hurt, he said, how could you have forgotten? hurts.