The rain crawled down her embony legs and bare feet--bare feat of Lynn, of Jasper, of Memphis, adolescent kisses, 2 am walks through dead leaves last autumn--she just sat there on my third porch step, still and nearly naked. I hadn't seen her in a year, and she seemed so much smaller thatn I remembered. Everything about her was different from what I remembered.
"What are you doing here? Where are your clothes?"
She jerked her head up and stared at me with clear brown eyes, so clear, as if she was about to cry.
"Oh I was swimming in the lake.....I think Di took my clothes.....he's always doing stuff like that...."
For only a moment I wanted to say, "So you came here. Of all places." But my tongue quickly froze when I couldn't taste enough bitterness. No, it's all gone now, everything's deliquesced, gone...
She bit her wet lip and bent her forehead down to her knees. Her bra-strapped shoulders trembled slightly. I stood there and thought, was she expecting someone else? Me, but.....a different me?
But I had to hold her.
I knelt down on the second wooden step and wrapped my arms around her frail body. I thought the weight of her skin would frighten me like it did a long time ago, but everything is different now. She started to sob, and I instinctively held her tighter.
Do you feel me holding you? Do you feel my calloused fingers over the bones in your back? Did the rain sting you? What in this dusk left you naked on this rain-soaked wood?
As I took off my coat to wrap around her, I remembered something I wrote one night by a candle, while I smoked a cheap cigar.
I feel you crying somewhwere tonight
don't know what you want, just what I'd like
I'd like for you to cry if you must
just know I'm praying, little darling,
for your soul not to rust
After I wrapped the coat around her, she fell into me. Her eyelashes batted a few times, and then closed as she mumbled, "Did I come too late?"
No no baby no
Her cold shaking hand beaded with crystal rain found it's way 'round my neck, as if that was it's destination from the start, and then her body went limp. I thought a million thoughts at once; Is this right? Has it been too long? Have I waited too long? Last year I was weary as hell and had no one holding me, no one to catch me when I was cold and naked, no one....
I stopped thinking, and risked everything. All the doubts and grudges and scars and pain that left me blinded cascaded behind me and melted into the muddy grass, and for the first time I wanted it to stay there.
I stood up, broken angel in my arms, and I climbed the stairs....