MAHOGANY

Insulated water bottles filled to the brim with illicit spirits, our bare backs pressed flat against the secret slopes of Appalachia. Tipsy fingers meddled with the buttons on my cardigan until we found it in the sweet grass hours later, soaked in starlight and the dewy scent of us. We were the architects of makeshift movie theaters on your bedroom floor, pirating campy 80s films yet always giving up halfway through with lips trapped between teeth. You’d knead the stubborn knots from the small of my back and I’d thank you afterward with cloudy stories of my past exhaled into your ear. You cried with me. You walked with me through every sunlit garden, stopping me by the conifers to capture the way the dying day would paint my skin mahogany. You were always ready with your camera, waiting for my face to melt for you, how I’d come at you with No, I don’t look good today, how you’d look at me in breathless disbelief and call me blind. Go on and give the world to someone else. Fill the bottles again. Find new hills for twinkling nights. Sit through the credits this time. Clutch her closer than skin when she shatters. And take pictures of her, too, under any sliver of golden light you can find. She might hate it then but she’ll love it later. I know I do. I still look back at those photos and ache that I couldn’t believe you.

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