beautiful, as a verb
my eyelids scrape down your forearms pooling with jasmine perfume against your wrists, in a burning gaze. tangible. you first kissed me when the snow ran red, like blood, or like the ground was blushing through its permafrost at my glee, at your palm against my hammering chest. i had pulled away first, soaking your hair with a handful of tar-streaked slush as you squealed. it was as if the thawing road shied away from our soaked high tops, licking at the opposite snowbank. my first kiss. it was nothing short of perfect. that was . . . your voice, curled up at the end like a boot crunching leaves, told me everything. i kissed you again, on the cheek.
the next time was in the lake that spring, our parents talking, sipping cocktails, as we jumped off the dock at your lakehouse again and again. your swimsuit hugged your hips, rivulets of water skating down your legs. you giggled nervously as my eyes landed on your grimy feet. —the weeds coat the rocks. algae. wanna try to touch the bottom?— and we leapt into the freezing water, gripping each other’s thighs with icebound fingers, oversaturated lips meeting with a sigh. you inhaled sharply and swam up to the surface, coughing. you burst into laughter, i remember, when i showed you my toes, clenching at the slimy soil i scooped from the seafloor. you grabbed my elbow and pulled me back under.
month after month, your tears of joy and pain water the valleys in the crook of my elbows as i soothe you. my laugh, bubbling and laced with sunbeams, sheds light on the dark parts of you: the negative space between your shoulder blades, your liver, the sadness that sometimes creeps out from behind your corneas. call us symbiotic, but this is not your average science lesson. there are no taxidermied fowl in this museum. your ribcage, a venue. your laugh, a treasure. me, a docent, who walks your halls, in awe day after day.