Sea

It’s summer in the city. You bring the beach towels, the cheap ones that pill and shed blue lint over our stomachs, and we ride the train all the way to the outskirts. It’s empty in the subway. The bottoms of our thighs stick to the seats.

When we get to the beach, there are broken bottles, sea glass, a Butterfinger wrapper, a band-aid. Farther down, there’s a woman rolling a baby in a stroller with crocs on her feet. Not a lot of people here, you say. We sit, we put suntan lotion on our faces without rubbing it in, we drink special lemonade in the Poland Spring bottles from yesterday.

A train passes along a bridge a couple of blocks away, and I can hear it with my eyes closed. I like this song. I touch the curves along your face and you touch mine and neither of us can see.

What does it look like? you ask.

I don’t know. I’ve never had to describe what my face looks like to anybody. I say: my eyes are brown. My hair is dark. My skin is somewhere in between and it feels like this, see?

You tell me to close my eyes and ask you the same thing, and I do. My eyes are some color, you say. My hair is some color.

We fill in the rest ourselves, what we can smell with our own noses and touch with our own hands and taste with our own tongues and hear with our own ears. I press mine close against your throat, wanting to know, listening close for the swallow, the air coming in, the living things swimming inside.

Behind the rocks, we wrestle and we push each other. Sometimes we hit to know what that feels like, too. It feels good and it doesn’t feel so good, we think.

This will be gone soon, you say.

I know, I say.

We go into the sea with our clothes on. I lean back while you keep me afloat in your arms. I feel the sun on my eyelids, and the water makes it so I can hear everything. I see you, I think. A little.

Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman

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