By Pat Foran
You’re a silhouette with a shadow, undressing by a hint of candlelight flickering in from down the hall. You’re facing the back bedroom wall so no one can see. When I’m on the autopilot of us, I know this. I get it. It’s been wooden hugs and eggshells for awhile now. But on this night, from here in the hall, I see you, or I think I see you, or your shadow, or I think I see it, and I apologize, or start to, and a cold wind whistles in from the northwest — through the hallway, under the door, out the window, over the moon — and the wooden hugs begin to freeze. The eggshells turn to ice. That ice. I think and think and think about that ice until I see it, spreading out before me, in front of you, around us, a frozen river. And I see you as you used to say you saw yourself — out there on that rink of a river, all sit-spins and salchows, triple jumps and toe loops. Before you settled in with me, before you started singling your axels. Before I stopped accompanying you to the rink to watch you skate through life. Before I stopped letting you watch me funnel my own centrifugal wishes, all my spinning into something like storytelling. Before I stopped letting you see me. But I’m here now, we’re here now on this candlelit, rough-cut rink. And here, I think, I see you. Or a silhouette. Or a shadow. The you I see senses someone’s looking, you think they see you, and you cover up, cover up quickly, even though you’re already covered up. Your bare back still turned, I hear you say as you fold your arms across your chest that you saw this thing today about Arctic sea smoke on the National Geographic Channel. How the fog that forms over the open water in sea ice can spiral as high as 100 feet, making it hard for ship lookouts to see as they negotiate the Transpolar Sea Route. I see the ice. I see that fog. The extent to which and the lengths to which and the ends to which I want to believe I’d go now to let you see me, to let you see me there. Or my shadow. But I believe I see you, your bare back arched, arms unfolded and extended, one leg lifted, head and shoulders bent backward, layback spinning through the Arctic sea smoke.
Pat Foran holds a patent on a particular kind of wooden hug. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, Wigleaf, Milk Candy Review and elsewhere. Find him at http://neutralspaces.co/your_patforan/ and on Twitter at @pdforan.