by Rebecca Gaffron
I look in the mirror of your eyes and see myself, as I see myself, and wonder what you see. You, who called me beautiful while your calloused thumb rubbed traces of Halloween-costume-freckles from my smooth cheek. You gazed at me under a streetlight all but over-powered by the orange glow of a harvest moon. And it was clear you loved in that moment before your lips met mine. For an instant I wondered how and then the feel of you made me forget to question.
Now all I can think of is the reflection of your smile distorted by glistening water. A line whips and circles in the air. A lure, so light—freshly tied and real. The cast is perfect. I am mesmerized by infinitely swaying loops outlined against sky, like some complicated incantation, working and weaving the designs of the universe into our own desires. Willing this fish to strike.
And I can’t tell if I’m the fish or the fisherman. Not sure who is catching who. Not that it matters. The hook is set and the work begins. We play each other. Reel in the slack and come up close, close enough to look in the mirror of the other’s eyes, where we see ourselves as we see ourselves and wonder what the other sees.
I could be a fish in your grasp. Caught. A gift you’d gaze heavenward and give thanks for. Or you, slick in my hands . A gift I’d tremble with gratitude for. But the run isn’t finished yet. So speckled, iridescent skin slips through hesitant fingers and the line pays out again.
I ache to trust you the way I have never trusted. I ache for you to kill me fast and set my soul free. I want to feel you split me open. Offer my depths to the river and watch as spring-cold currents wash away this mistrust. This doubt. This fear of surrender. I would do the same for you. Rub you down with juniper and salt, protecting more than flesh. Preserving those bits you thought you’d lost.
We could accept the gift of a magic fish. We could look into its eyes and see ourselves as we see ourselves, but also possibilities—a lifetime of harvest moons together and the lingering sound of your guitar, or my words, or the laughter of our children.
But then your lips meet mine and I wonder if this is refraction or reality, before the risk of losing you makes me forget to question.