The Things We Knew
I still think about her, sometimes. About the snow and the lake and the way the water was so cold it bit our ankles like wild dogs. We drank pumpkin beer even though it was April, let our words slur like slippery paint even though we could have spoken straighter if we wanted to. One time I read a poem and all I can remember of it now are the words mi corazón duro—“my hard heart”—words that sound so much softer in Spanish. And then she would kiss me, sometimes, so hard so soft so fast in the back of my throat it felt like I was sledding on the hill behind my dad’s house in January and there was just enough ice for it to be dangerous. Only she kisses me, and it’s not cold, it’s spring, and this time I don’t wake up with a scaly cheek and blood glossing my lips and a mild concussion, we’ll just keep her for observation. I don’t know how to say this—sometimes she made me feel as though the sunlight was a golden horizon a person could only see the end of if they wanted to put their hands straight inside me. If they weren’t afraid to get dirty, to go on and go out and shake their stained palms with every stranger they saw. I don’t know how fast I was going before I hit. I know that I went to Bible study with her every Wednesday so I could hold her hand under the table; I know her lips so intricate and curved it looked like they were made of wood and blade. I know the taste of her father’s beer. I know the glint of it in a glass bottle that looks like ice. We knew kissing and the distinct smell of hair in the dark cavern behind each other’s ear and the way our fingertips tingled even though we both knew we weren’t drunk. Not really. I have known sledding. I am learning to crash.