What did I know of consequences?
The game delighted, so I played
like a child, heedless, unaware
of the migration of senses.
First, my eyes, translating the world,
drifted into yours, layering sight,
mirror-mazing perception. Was it my face
then, or yours, that I looked upon?
Then, my skin stretched – the whorls
on my fingers like galaxies, the lines
on my palms like rivers across sand
dunes – and my body grew beyond
itself, beyond yours. With our left
hand I reached up to drape a fine
cirrus sky shawl across my shoulders.
With our right, I stroked the wind.
Our Siamese legs straddled distances.
I breathed your breath, you thought
my thoughts, both of us configured
into the folds of one space. Who was
I then? What were my thoughts?
Where did I stop and you begin?
Yes, once there were no boundaries,
and we were both lost, adrift on land
extending in every direction as far
as shimmering hallucinations could
rise – the directions merging,
indistinguishable; the space around
us vast and thirsty; our words
emptying into it like the last drops
from a canteen, rivulets drying out
as they were spoken. Reckless,
I promised water, you promised
shelter when there was none –
and we cupped trust in our hands
and made-believe. Without boundaries,
we shrivelled in the heat;
the earth’s crust scorched our feet,
the unremitting sun burnt our skin.
I wilted in a haze of silent recrimination:
shamed, overcome by so much space.
I/you/we do not occupy this space
alone. Place an ear against the stars
or on the ground, let your skin tingle
as if a storm approaches, pay heed
to the movement of ants. Resonances
multiply: a tension in the air, a low
hum, a faint vibration. Who built
this cairn of rocks? What spirit watches
over this place? What does this hill,
that tree, these boulders signify?
What other markers are strewn about
this land that you and I cannot see?
Out of grief I drew a line in the sand,
raised a fence, tried to explain
that you would find me always
behind it, that you could come
and visit me here as often as you
want, on the understanding that
after each visit you would leave again –
so that I could grow back into myself,
my small body, my hands; so that
I could touch your cheek and know
that it was yours; so that I could be
outside the tears in your eyes.
A Line in the Sand
1 November 2012