Winter Reading

Your body beneath the blanket - an undulating hillside under snow. Only your left hand has ventured out in the cold and props the book, perpendicular, on your chest. Your breaths are easy, slow, and ("just resting," you murmur) I watch your eyes begin to close. The book wavers in your hand. And though your eyes are fast now, and you don't seem to hear when I whisper your name - still, your fingers remain vigilant. Like sentries, perfectly trained, they resist Eva Luna's gravity and do not let go. The book totters, dips, as the forefinger relaxes, then springs back, erect, as the thumb stiffens its resolve. Again it leans, centimeter after centimeter, the hand surrendering to the pull of time until, quiet as a glove dropped in the snow, the book slips from your grasp, the pages riffling, and the fingers close. Suddenly nothing is the same. The book breathes easy in its bed of words. The story, unburdened, repudiates its history, whispering new secrets, new names. And you too are changed, burnished in the amber light, the lips relaxed, the worry-lines erased. Staring now, I can barely recognize your face. More like a girl or a gibbous moon, a bright something glimpsed on the bottom of a lake. It makes me ashamed - how long since I've looked at you this way? Awake, I will be patient this evening, Keeping watch as you sleep, reading, rereading the story, the breathing, the snow's desultory refrain - nothing, nothing is ever the same.

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