I decided you were infinite
Grace Hobbs





How was your day? Did anything fun and interesting happen?

It was good. Nothing much.

That’s too bad. Maybe tomorrow.

Yeah. Maybe.

So you want to do something tonight?

Like what?

I don’t know; go out or something. Let me take you out to dinner. Or we could go dancing. Or to the planetarium to look up at the stars with that telescope. Or to that bookstore between Seventh and Fifth with the big armchairs and the fireplace. We could bring a blanket and a bottle of wine and sit on the floor and read Billy Collins. “You are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine…”

You laugh. I don’t think they’d let us do that.

Hey, it’s worth a shot. It could be an adventure.

I don’t know.

Let’s go away. Let’s get in the car and just drive. We won’t bring anything with us, not even money, not even food. We’ll even ditch the blanket and the wine. Let’s get lost.

Your smile used to be like sunlight. I’m tired.

You close the door and I try to imagine what you’re doing in there, why you need to be alone like that, why you won’t even ask me to crawl into bed with you and press my forehead against yours, to slip between our crisp white sheets and nudge your foot with mine. We’ve got a sixth-floor walk-up by the river and I can see the people walking on the street. I have a sudden urge to drop something out the window: an eggplant, a pumpkin, a watermelon, something that will make a satisfying splat on the sidewalk and mark out a vegetable crime scene. People will look up and I’ll have backed away, hidden in the shadows of our kitchen, giggling like a child by the refrigerator. They won’t know where it came from. An act of god. I’ll empty a glass of water directly on their heads, create a thirty-seven second drizzle and catch them without umbrellas. It would be so elegant: my slender hand tilting the glass, faceless, remote, beads of water rolling down in slow motion, one by one.

But I won’t because I’m not a god, not even your god, and I can’t demand your attention. Can’t command it, either. Not even with blast of trumpet and heavenly host, not even with urban apocalypse: behind that door you’re more remote than me behind the window. I will see the city dipped in flames, I will burnish skyscrapers and scorch the asphalt and bend the streetlamps to my will, I will rage and I will scream and you will stay behind that door. You will place your hand on its smouldering frame and feel nothing, and all the seraphs I can call will not be able to move you. I knock, anyway; I press my ear against the wood, straining to hear you breathe. You say nothing. You may or may not be asleep.

I pull on my shoes and go, just anywhere, anywhere. I am suffocating. I slam the door behind me and it doesn’t make a sound – you’ve stolen all the air; there’s no place for it to echo. There’s no room for me here. My ears pop on the stairwell, my lungs suddenly inflate and I’m gasping for the oxygen I lost in your vacuum, choking on all that air, feeling the catch in my chest and I’m sobbing and I’m so grateful for the noise. I’m outside – sidewalk bare, city intact – and my feet go first, slapping the pavement, pounding out a rhythm in my blood, loosening the muscles in my legs until they stretch into one long joyous stride. I forget about you. I remember.

I want to run past your arms and into your skin, I want to dance in your veins and under your eyes and burn your tongue until you sweat me out like a fever and I lick the salt off your neck. I wonder if you’re really asleep. I wonder if you’re even really there, in that room, behind that door, between those crisp white sheets. I wonder where you are.

You are the snows of Kilimanjaro and I used to be the native guide; where once I was nimble and surefooted now I stumble, grasping uncertainly for hand- and footholds. I knew you in the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet; I could crumble your dirt between my fingers and embed it there, into the whorls and ridges of my skin, soiling anything I touched with the stain of us: yours, mine, yours. Mine.

I climbed the ridge of your vertebrae with light feet and clung to your ribcage, setting up camp in the hollow of your neck. I dropped kisses in the chasm of your sleeping mouth, listening for echoes and hearing none. I decided you were infinite. You decided I was perfect. As I imagined you I could spend years playing cartographer, navigating your body under the stars, charting new constellations from your freckles, making paths that would lead me ever deeper into you, so that there was nothing I would not know. I travelled the length and depth and width of you, from your toes to the crown of your head, and now I do know: I know how your voice sounds when you’re angry and how your limbs twitch when you’re falling into sleep; I know precisely the angles you fold your arms and where your thoughts go, probably, when your eyes won’t look at me. I know where you are, in that room, between those crisp white sheets, breathing light and even, eight and a half blocks from where I stand. I am desperate to push a pin into the flawed map of your body, to mark it as a place that I have been, to draw blood only to make sure you remember.

I will not call the seraphs. I will not rage and scream. I will look at you and insist:

This, here, is where you are. You are not a mountain. You are not something I can chart and measure, standing apart from. I was wrong to try.

You rub sleep from your eyes, staring at me drowsily.

I know, you say.

Let me sleep next to you tonight.

Okay.


You missed the sun going down.

I know that, too.

It was beautiful.

I’m sure it was.

It’s dark out now.

What’s that supposed to mean?

I don’t know,
I say. I don’t know.




Grace Hobbs has worked at The Adirondack Review, Fence and PANK. Her work has appeared in PANK and is forthcoming in an anthology by Spruce Mountain Press.





Art by Sheri Wright