We’re sitting together in the park. I see the day’s dying light glint off your head. Your highlights pick up the flecks of golden light and reflect them back at me until you almost seem to be wearing a diadem. When did you put those in? Did they grow while I was distracted by life?
Your eyes are warm. They will always be the warmest place on earth for me. How often have I not wanted to crawl into them and curl up, foetus like, stay there, always.
You lean in to kiss me. Our lips meet. The birds stop singing, or so it seems. All I am aware of is the feel of your mouth exploring mine. Of how you pull my lower lip between your teeth and bite, but gently. I moan deep in my throat.
And then the moment escapes. Leaves the room like tendrils of mist rising to the sky. I bury my face in the folds or your gown. Run the fabric along my lower lip. Did you notice that you’d left it behind? I inhale deeply. It smells so completely of you that for a moment I drown in longing.
How cold are you, my love?
I leave the bed. I leave our bed and go to stand at the bedroom window. I pull the curtain aside. I try to capture the world with a single glance but it is too big. Too wide and too empty. I think of how nothing ever escaped you.
There is a crescent moon. A fragile sliver. It smiles. Tremulous. The giant Maple, your giant Maple is a charcoal silhouette in the back yard. All gnarled arms and accusatory fingers. There is frost. A fine smattering that glistens, icy sweat on earth’s brow. Your tulips are just beginning to flower. The pale yellow buds wink at me from the inky flowerbeds. Tomorrow I want to kneel beside them, kneel close, feel the petals brush my face and imagine them to be a caress. Yours.
Come stand beside me just today. Allow me to put an arm around you and pull you close. Allow me to study the curve of your neck, silvery in the moonlight, the curve of your mouth, lips slightly parted. Just for today, let me crawl into your eyes. Stay there. There is no world outside of you.
My feet are cold. I don’t notice that I’ve pressed my head to the chilled pane. My hand too. I remove them, see the misted imprints like smudges on the nightscape. Ridwaan stirs. I go back to bed and climb in beside him. He is all angles at six. Everyone says he looks just like me. But they’re wrong. He has your eyes. They flash in anger just the way yours used to sometimes. They dance with mischief more often now. And I’m thankful for that. He smiles in his sleep. They’re right. He does have my smile.
He kicks the covers off, revealing his gazelle legs. Throws an arm out wide, almost knocks me in the face. I set him right, cover him again. Tuck him in, just like you used to. He laughs.
“Mommy…”he laughs again and I feel chilled. Something inside me cracks anew and I swallow hard against the lump in my throat. So hard that my ears hurt.
You visit him at night too?
How cold you must be, my love. How cold. Why didn't I give you your gown. You need it. Instead all you have is white calico. And winter’s earth, a mountain on your fragile frame.
Come lay with me, my love. Let’s watch for the coming of dawn together. No, the bed is no longer too small for three. We fit. See? Your head planted beneath my chin. No, not with your back to me. Face me. Yes, I want to look into your eyes. Crawl into them just this once after you've kissed me again and thrown my world into a state of flux.
I want to speak against your lips. Say, I love you. Tell you how long each day stretches without you in it. How hollow.
I wake each day, take my smile back from Ridwaan’s elfin face before he rises, place it over the lips you’d kissed the night before. It’s my smile, after all. Ridwaan needs my smiles.
I rearrange myself so that by the time he wakes, I look whole. A man. His father.
About that smile, did you entrust it to him for safekeeping? My smile?