“We talk about it all night long.
we define our moral ground,
but when I crawl into your arms,
everything comes tumbling down.”
She was raised near the ocean, salt water in her veins, sand in the tangled tendrils of her hair, and her way of loving, like the ebb and flow of the sea. Sometimes her mind wandered off, like the way the ocean disappears into the horizon at the break of dawn, or the twilight twinkle of almost night. He would try to find her then, grabbing her hand, pulling her close, biting that spot of her neck that always sent her from a fit of giggles, to a tremor of sighs. But sometimes, well sometimes she could not be found.
He promised to build her a boat that they could sail off in together. Telling her tales of their future adventures in the stark and still of midnight, when she was restless, kicking, dream haunted and hazy and scared. It was then that he saw the child in her eyes, the one who had never learned to swim, who would sink and slide under each rip tide, taken away in some red flag warning. He would cradle her then in his thin, spindly arms, and try to breathe strength into her, into her lips, into her lungs. If he loved her enough she would float to the surface, gasp in big gulps of oxygen, and live again.
She wanted to live on the water, in that boat from his late night fairy tales. Every day she brought home small stacks of lumber, each day leaving tiny splinters in her skin, but she smiled anyway, dreaming of a sea of love someday. She brought him glue and nails, water-proof paint, tools and books on shipbuilding, and laid them all at his feet. He would push them to the side, take her in his arms, spin her in circles until she was dizzy and falling underneath him. They would make love for hours by the wood pile and the ever-growing stack of maybe someday soon. They were her dreams she was sharing, tearing her skin with, opening herself up to.
To him they were just stories, something to fill in the spaces between sex and coffee and conversation. He thought their tiny one-bedroom space would carry her through. He thought that he was enough to make her dreams come true. That he could untie her hair, loosen her dress, kiss her from stem to stern and back again, and fill in all the emptiness inside of her.
He took the wood and built a cradle one day while she worked at the diner around the corner. He used the nails and glue to hold it together, and with the paint he decorated it with swirls of ocean waves, and a beautiful mermaid’s tale. It was a wish for a family, for their love to grow, for their ship to be a life to share. He pictured her smile, crooked teeth and red-lipstick grin, how a tear might fall ever-slowly down her cheek that she would let trickle and trail down her porcelain pale skin. He pictured her happy.
She pictured their boat, their love on the sea, the two of them, afloat always, together.
Ship Song :: Lissie