Originally recorded on Don Chaffer,
An Unfinished Tale, Vol. 2, Truth
Three, maybe four...
Shoot, maybe even five nights a week sometimes,
I was in her room overnight.
There was often a moment before I fell asleep,
a kind of crease in the cloth that marked late night and
I turned away from it, and with two fingers,
pushed against the sheet and felt the ridge collapse under my long soft touch.
When I turned back, it was as if the crease had just disappeared.
I would hazily allow myself to fall asleep.
Maybe wake up and feel better.
Sometimes I would wake up, and make it down the hall to my room before my roommate awoke.
He slept heavily.
I would climb the bunk quickly and quietly,
and lie there breathing,
watching the sun coming up through our window,
hoping he hadn't heard,
hoping I hadn't awakened him.
Sometimes I would lie there,
wondering if he was lying right below me
also awake, not saying anything, because
what do you say?
A few times when I arrived, he had already gone to class.
And once or twice, we actually saw each other,
me desperately awake, pushing down creases in my mind,
half panicked at my ridiculous charade,
him showered, clean, on his way to class.
Edie was the pastor's daughter.
I don't remember how we ended up being canoe partners
on the canoe trip.
It was a month or two after breaking up with the girl
with the wrinkly sheets from
down the hall.
I felt shy, and dark.
We paddled down the river.
On one quiet stretch, she asked me
“Have you ever kissed anyone?”
“What do you think about it? Kissing?”
She was fresh, young, and pure.
I was stale, haunted, and lonely.
“It’s kind of... dangerous,” I confessed.
“Before you know it...
Well, it’s just a very passionate thing, and...
I guess I just think it’s dangerous.”
And that was exactly what I thought.
You begin with kissing her, and then somewhere you are wrestling with the idea of dawn, and losing.
You awake to find yourself naked in someone else’s bed.
We paddled on in silence past a few more trees along the shore.
“Well, I’ve been dating Andrew, you know.”
“And we’ve been kissing, and
I guess I know it’s kind of dangerous,
“It’s pretty fun,” and then she giggled.
Not a dark giggle.
A young one, funny one-
the kind of giggle that forced me to be honest,
haunted or not.
“Yeah,” I said. “It is that. It is fun.”
We canoed on a while, her in front,
drinking in the trees, water, and sky,
loving the eddies of her oar
loving how fun it is to kiss;
me in back, wanting to be alive again,
trying to cover the slack in her stroke,
and trying my best to steer.