Plugging in the portable heater and pulling it toward my legs I remembered
The braziers under the round table at the finca you brought us to
In the Spanish hills. It was January, a searingly cold afternoon, and in a cave-like room
We sat with the sisters who worked there, the tablecloth pulled over our thighs 
And we might all have been knitting together, or divvying provisions;
It was a sudden, short-lived society, and in between envisioning all the accidents
Born from live embers near legs and beneath cloth, I experienced the little
Miracle of it, the conversation—bright and unintelligible to my schoolroom Spanish—
You, chatting easily, as engaged as a car in third gear, making your own jokes while
Agreeing enthusiastically, and I could follow the music of it, the lead-up and
The laughter, because I knew the cadences of your conversation like a winding path
Through the woods—we had wended through many woods in many weathers—
And because of all that neither of us knew then—of the illnesses to come, and the reality
Of those women’s lives that we had conveniently cropped out at that moment—
This could have been a childhood we lived in together for that sheltered hour
Before we walked back into the cold, crossing paths with the owner’s teenage daughter
In her jodhpurs and riding boots, and what we still laugh about was the open pack
Of licorice she held in one hand, and the fork she used to pierce the pieces with the other.

 


HOME PAGE IMAGE: INTERIORS (2023) by CLAUDIA KEEP, FROM ISSUE NO. 246, WINTER 2023.