LETTER to LAKE W_____
She was from Seattle and lived in a limestone apartment building on the corner of a budding knoll. I first met her at the monthly boathouse social. She was tall and ridiculously elusive and curved with grey eyes and rippling black hair to her shoulder blades. She gave the perfect calendar of slow dosage over the following weeks, resisting, scoffing, dismissing, gently inquiring, leaving again. It was her slow roll to indifference. I knew I had to lure her interest with the subtlety of angel hair pasta; she had so many directions to contemplate, a volume of offers to entertain, and she needed time—still—to absorb and build confidence in her own philosophies. I waved to her from across the street from time to time as I pretended to care for a neglected lawn.
At the necessary stupid party The Pool of Society played its game around her; I watched and waited as other sorties failed, their boasts, caveats, entreaties falling to the concrete and hedges with innocent wreckage. I noticed the women held her close but failed to reach the engine room, or furnace, or the something that forced her frame and eyes to emit the insistence and ultimacy I caught in her weeks before. I knew on this knoll at this picnic, the two of us barely sharing the air, that I could only graze from her proximity and pray she’d strike. I sat on a plastic chaise and stabbed at a three-bean salad. She came my way and said something unintelligible. I smiled because whatever it was she said to me was not issued with a frown or complaint. I didn’t want to respond to her with appeasement. Knowing not how to admit I was watching the movement of her face and not listening to the words stealing away from her lips I smiled and asked how she came to live here, on my adopted block. She told me she was here for some advanced “booklearnin’” but also learning how to cultivate kitchen gardens in microenvironments. I mentioned I had mistaken her for a cello player, judging by her affect, shoulders and arms. She nearly spat right back with a derisive laugh, pointing for my adrenal gland, catching me full in my line. She said she’d never played but that my guess wasn’t the worst attempt at courting volleys she’d ever heard. For only two minutes or less I carried her in my stream. I brought up as many inane segues between the block and botany I could conjure just for the chance to trace her elusive gazes and imprint her dimples in my eternal psychic canon. She obliged with fair interest and wove herself into the folds of another human gauntlet. I was dazed and fattened with her brief attention. I decided to see her through, knowing the future pain would age me wholly.
For three weeks I asked her to come with me to an outdoor Saturday concert series. On the last Saturday she relented. I pointed at the string section and made her study the tensile mastery in the women’s shoulders, noting the etymology of my desire for her. She dutifully belittled my efforts, but pinched me just the same. This was growing more and more painful. I couldn’t fathom the pain awaiting me if she ever soon chose to focus her full attention my way. There needed to be a showdown of our cards, soon.
One late spring afternoon I rowed her clear across my lake in a widened rental skiff and we kissed just a few feet from the opposite shore. I’ll always hear the lapping of the algae-steeped lake and feel her gentle face before mine. We eased to land and sat atop a picnic table and imagined countless futures that afternoon. We pretzeled our forearms together and later toyed with a cracked Frisbee we found near the water. That night, back in her limestone corner bay window, we tackled and fell to her purple pillows. She mentioned she loved me with a cruel blink or two. I chose a set up reply—I asked her why she didn’t have any indoor plants as I invaded her irises with my dying being. As she fumbled for an answer to the plant question I told her I loved her and watched her whites glisten and the rush dance across her face. Her pupils steadied on mine—locking me in. The seven seconds that followed were so light and embryonic I couldn’t dream of ever recapturing them. Every flooding revelation that followed indicated a drawn out, nearly finely milled concern for each other. A bond was cast lest the specter of all the forces around us could prohibit the connection. It was as if we both felt drawn into creation and through the pain of abiding years to at once and together experience that one clip of seconds on that evening. It was indelible, and nothing in our forward momentum bothered to venture beyond what we had leapt across together and alone during that carefully crafted convergence of many prior yearning moments to one. We returned to the lake that night and listened to the loons mock our discovery with their reeling laughter.