I miss the deepening thumps and flashing pale-pink-yellow skies of living near Fort Knox, my old house. When I moved, I tried to recreate the sounds in my new garage but everything was too small, too thin. Too hollow, too close. I tell her all this as we climb the steep steps of the treehouse out back. She’s barefoot and I am behind her, holding her gold high-heeled shoes, making myself useful.

I think about the man who built the treehouse. If he ever got up here after midnight like us, behind the green-wind-hush of the leaves, above the ditch frog and cricket chorus, underneath the full thunder moon. I like to think about having a kid or two to share it with someday. About marrying a woman who would let me get away with giving them names like Cash or Elvis or Waylon or Laredo. Who wouldn’t fuss about me listening to outlaw country music in the car. I finally tell her that stuff and more. My heart was an ice-cold, tight, white rose before I met you. I found the softest spots of your heart when I didn’t even want them; crookedly framed things on the walls inside of me, to help me remember.

Frame 1: That night after dinner when I watched her take a translucent, atomic fish bone from her tongue and drop it into the empty wine glass. Frame 2: The time we’d gotten in a fight but she still called me and told me to go outside, to look up at the northern lights. How we sat on the phone together breathing about God.

When I wasn’t looking, I slipped on her sweetness like it was a perfect rectangle honeycolored bar of Neutrogena left on the shower floor. I sigh and say so forgive me if falling in love with you is at once both messy and clean, washing this dirty sinnerman from the inside out. It feels good, it stings. It’s like I’m bleeding soap.





© Leesa Cross-Smith