Rain-beaten flowers and Rough Drafts

by nike, September 21, 2010

From the morning’s pages, unedited:

The driveway is littered with blossoms knocked out of the canopy by the rain. The trees make a different sound in the rain, not rattling their limbs and leaves, but shirring, whispering like wet silk skirts. I knock on the door and hear her call out from the studio.

She is working almost naked. An old, stained t-shirt tied at the front, tucked up over her expanding belly. Boxer shorts scooped beneath it. Her hair knotted up on the back of her head and pinned with mismatched chopsticks. A mottled rag tucked into the waistband of the shorts. Her pale bare feet as small as a dancer’s. A tin of beeswax polish open on the floor beside her. There is a smear of something on her cheek – something as dark and thick as old honey. She does not look up when I come in. Both hands are on the wood, no tools, she is rubbing the limbs smooth with her hands, every now and then dipping her fingertips into the jar of grease, rubbing them together to warm and soften the wax before she rubs it into the smoothed wood. Just a little each time. All the windows are open. The wet smell of the forest moves through us.

I kiss the back of her neck, flatten my palm on her belly, the skin tight and warm as a beaten drum. I feel her smile through my closed eyes: the tightening of a cheek, the tilt of her chin. And through it all the firm, repetitive strokes of her hands, quickening the timber. ‘Nearly there,’ she says. ‘Nearly there.’

A long strand of dark hair falls loose over her bare neck, so perfect, so black and clean and smooth it breaks my heart.

I have brushed her hand as she moved past me, and lain beside her in the dark, listening to the child forming at the edge of her breath. While she lies in my arms I recite poems. I lay down words on her breasts, on her long, strong limbs, on her mouth. I whisper to her in the dark, chant along the veins in her wrists, up into the bend of her elbow, over the blue rivers that beat against my lip, tracing her edges, laying down sentences in the soft cavities behind her knees. She has lifted me up and held my face in her hands and kissed me and looked at me. Looked at me for a long, long time. She has swallowed me with her dark eyes. Outside the window silence booms its chorus, rising and breathing while she blooms, while she lies with me, her skin soft and fragrant as rain-beaten flowers.

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