Say, then, come along, we'll sit by the windows while the sun goes by. Shadows crawl up and shadows crawl down: the blinds swing, and their multiple mouths smile, or frown, twenty at a time: sketches, gestures in time and sunlight.
Forget all that I said. Forget wondering why my heart still snags when a woman takes off her dress at the beach, forget "born to guilt and working towards innocence," forget even the battered straw hat I hold in my hand while the wind cools my scalp, forget the sand that made its way into my shoes.
What I want is as simple and as far away as that -- that touch, your worn hand in mine, and the slowing of the clock. I never wanted so little so much. And the whole day empties, empties. If I could put it into words I wouldn't be here, would I? I'd be holding your hand in the banded lightfall.
It seems simple -- that's why people do that "born innocent" thing -- but it is enormously complex. You used to be complimented when people said you were a complicated, you said; oh, it seemed dark and interesting. But now you just want to be simple. Realizing maybe for the first time what a complicated project that could turn out to be. It's often easier to tie a knot than to untie it, though we're seldom clever enough to remember that at the time.
That woman taking off her dress, even she aspired to simplicity, of a sort: she had the gestures that were supposed to say "unstudied" down, the gaze down and aside, the turn to the river -- as if the old man holding his hat, and the young men frozen like pointers, did not exist. Which to be fair we scarcely did: it was not anyone mortal she was undressing for.
We have to fashion our gods of the materials at hand: here is the sand god, the driftwood god, the god of rusted fire-barrels, the god of bottle caps, the god of broken glass. Here is the god of banded lightfall, who rules the holding of hands, and here is the god of slats that bend when the fan blows.
A quick gesture to avert the evil eye: so quick that if you didn't grow up with it you wouldn't catch it. And a real gaze of hunger, beyond the tall grass and the bike path, now: she wants a shadow to fall across her skin. That one, that one, dear, I know. Oh yes.
And when it does come, it flees, it scampers down the long steep sandy tunnel of time, till all you can hear is the distant skitter of little clawed paws, far below. What was it that came by so quick? Was it your heart's desire? Was it really? Did its shadow fall across you, really? It's too long ago even to know, now. You know only what you told yourself to remember.
Lift your eyes, and look across to the dim gray-green of the Washington side: there would be shadows under those trees. And maybe a frayed couple holding hands, there, where you could imagine a coolness coming off the river: a breath that belongs to both and to neither of you.