I can still see you. Standing at the rail. It requires no effort at all.
The wind whipped at you. Your hair, already tousled from our morning. Swept this way. Then that. By currents of air that swarmed the boat. As it hustled its river. When your eyes would demand reprieve, you would run a hand through. Or tuck a particularly pesky strand behind an ear. Such a simple gesture. But one that made me weak. In my bones. Each time I saw you do it.
Beneath an autumn sun battling November clouds. You gazed out at the city’s riverside. Warehouses. Shops. Apartment flats. With those eyes. Rich blue and equal measures fire and ice. When a sway would rock the boat, you would steady yourself. With two fingers. Always two. Which had its own endearing quality. Against the coil of heavy rope tied off at the rail. My sweater, bulky and thick, blanketed round you. The resulting vision: You, petite, delicate, strong. Stalwart against the elements. All in greater measure than you already were.
I liked when you wore my clothes. Liked when I watched you put them on. Liked when you took them off. On occasion, I would catch you. As you took a pinch of fabric. Pulled it to your nose. For a secret whiff. My scent. A dose of me taken inside you when a dose of me inside you was otherwise inconvenient or unavailable. And you would smile. That smile that was only for me. Mine. I liked to think. When we were apart. Of you. Partaking of those little ingestions. Often, I hoped.
There were the other times. Of course. When you would insist on wearing something of mine. A shirt. Usually. Of one style or another. When me inside you was available. Convenient. Demanded. How many times? Was I granted that vision. Of you. Teeth pressed against your bottom lip. As you moved with me. Moved around me. Eyes closed. To make room for other sensory. Input. Touch. And sound. Mostly. Wanting my hands. My mouth. To find you. Hungry for me to fill you. Until your teeth would relent. Your lips would part. Just a bit. And I knew. How close you were. We were. Then those eyes would open. To find me. At your end. You most often wanted to see me. Look into my eyes. Into me. It was, as is said, “a nice touch.”
How many times? It seems. Now. Both countless. And not near enough.
Then you would pull me from you. In some versions. Of our tale. And make me your focus. Eyes closed once more. Taste and smell. Joining touch and sound. A symphony. That you played. And conducted. Flawlessly. You knew my brink. And you would take me there. Then wander me away. With diversions. Beautiful and intense. Until we were again at my brink. Me unaware of how we had made our way back. Over and over. You commanded my rise and respite. Until that point. When mercy was called for.
Other times. Versions. The paths would be different. Shorter. Longer. Scenic. Or more driven. With purpose and intent. But always mapped toward the destination that consumed us. Bound us. A finishing dose. Of me inside you.
Just after. You would lie. Or sit. Depending on the positioning. Slack. Like we had rendered bone flexible and soft. Lungs quenched with deep drinks of air. A glisten highlighting you. Ivory skin flushed pink. Vibrant. At the base of your throat. Your chest. Breath and calm would return. Eventually. You would bunch a fistful of whatever you had worn. Of mine. And managed to keep on. Somehow. And wrench it to your nose.
“Mmmm. It smells like us,” you would say. “All of us.”
And I knew the pull. The attraction. As I lie there with you. Or sat. Or stood. My own sheen spreading coolness. Recovery. Your taste still on my lips. More than a linger. For awhile. Your scent on my hands. And face. And soul. Traces of you I would mourn as they evaporated. Left me. With only memory. That could be friend or foe.
And as you stood there. At the rail. And rope. Enveloped in my sweater. That you had worn. A few hours prior. When you sat atop me. That morning. Before the boat. Coaxing a dose. My hands pulled beneath the heavy drape of material. On you. Stroking you. Finding you. Until your lips parted. Just a bit. And your eyes opened.
On the deck. Staring out at the dark water. Swirling around us. Because of us. A wake sliced by our presence and action. That would expand behind us. Until disappearing. You looked vulnerable. Content. An air of melancholy satisfaction. As if perhaps you shared. My thoughts of our morning. And the onset of mourning. That sense of evaporation.
And I stepped to you. Aroused at the scene. In many ways. Wrapped round you from behind. You felt me against you. The many ways. I nuzzled against your neck. Your hair whipping at my eyes. I burrowed deeper. Into you. My nose against your skin. And my sweater. Against the rushes of water. And air. And chugging machinery. I spoke softly into your ear.
“Smells like us.”
You nodded. As you wrapped your arms on top of mine. At your waist. And you said, just loud enough for me to hear.”
“Mmm-hmm. All of us.”