That we have ended up in this salt-spiced house surrounded by wild gardens and crumbling stone walls presents itself as a fresh surprise each day. Was it ever our wish to move over the earth's skin with such caution, always fearing further loss in an unlikely landscape? On May mornings I watch you carefully descend the cliff to gather feathers fallen from Icarus's foolish wings. Now they float at the edge of the sea, now they fill pillows upon which we no longer dare to dream. My arms can never hold you tightly enough, and you will never look at me with Jesse's eyes. We have agreed not to ask each other for much; there is little left to give. Perhaps I offer you more coffee in the afternoon or you wonder if there is anything I need in town. During restless nights we refuse to hear wind stir the apple trees. At least it's peaceful, we think -- while in darkness beyond our walls crickets shrilly complain against quiet. A newspaper delivered daily to the door describes distant battles; our nearest neighbors are far away. Jesse sails yachts around Adriatic islands or tosses lucky dice in Monte Carlo.
First he loved you, then he loved me; for a single season he loved us both. Of what was fleeting, photographs remain: Jesse always poses in the middle, careless arms around our shoulders, evasive eyes already shifting toward a summer absent of us -- bleached Saturdays in Sicily, say. On that famous Barcelona balcony, our heartstrings vibrate beneath the same expert touch that strums his guitar, that commands an audience of other gypsies to gather in the street below. Jesse throws red and yellow roses down through flamenco darkness, one false flower for each of his betrayals in another Ramblas alley. Later, on the midnight ship to Formentera, his white teeth part to serenade the present with premature nostalgia, to wish on the starry wake for more and more. Even the two of us together are not enough for Jesse as even Paris cannot satisfy his senses. He will leave no farewell note behind, he will leave us to each other: this was an act of compassion, I finally understand. Now I pass an open doorway to glimpse you sitting on the edge of our bed. Your arms emerge brown and veined from white sleeves, your large hands hold snapshots of Spain and also Andorra. I continue toward the kitchen without intruding on the time and place to which you have boomeranged back. No, we never stride into each other's secrets; we share silent seasons separately. You don't mention how often I call out in sleep, and I don't ask if your lips on my throat hunger for taste of him. Waking beside empty space on hot August nights, I am spared fear that you have obeyed summons to search for Jesse in crowded California bars or on some beach of Mexico. I know you have only slipped past the rotting barn and entered our orchard to shift sprinklers that keep grass lush and green even when there is no rain.
On Monday I do the laundry and you steer the spitting iron through Tuesday and every Wednesday we wash the windows that stare upon the sea. Already another year has passed. Waves do not stop breaking on the rocks below, the horizon has not neared. Sometimes town children come to play in these haunted gardens; their calls draw you out to wander through the long grass on the rise. We can bear no heirs. So it startles me to notice that suddenly -- already -- your Levi's have faded like the sky before it dusks. I try to smooth away lines etched around my mirrored eyes. Aren't we still young and strong? Haven't countless others survived defeat to continue fighting? I would tell Jesse that we do what we are able. We don't forget to wind the clocks or to split the wood for winter. Mail arrives at noon and supper is at six. In June we tread the dusty lane, our sleeves brushing lightly, to where the stream still rages with spring.