I won't look at him because I will lose my shit. I look around, off into the distance, at the ceiling, at my lap, at my fingers he's braiding in his. And I pray. A prayer of gratitude that I've felt this way. And a prayer begging that I stop.
I make jokes because it's easier and pretend that the way he looks at me doesn't make me feel like magic.
He shifts and drops my hand and at once my skin is lonely. His absence is a clever ache that nestles in places I cannot reach and blooms even when I don't water it.
I say his name. It too is a prayer.
I hunger for him in a way that makes me tremble. I could live on this, I think, this fire and magic of ours, without another thing to sustain me. It's foolish and it's true. I wonder if he can feel how badly I crave him, like its a thing he can reach out and run his fingers through. If- in the corner of his mind where I've come to live- if he strokes it and watches it purr and come to life under his command and reminds himself that this is his. That every kiss is a question; who do you belong to?
That every sigh that skates through my parted lips is an admission I won't even leave in confessional; Yours. How long have I been? How much longer do I have to be?
We make love that is art, that is white hot glory and quiet ruin and I'm distracted by the specter of it even as I pray. I am insatiable. I am unquenchable fire. I squirm inside the longing of it. I want to tell him to take me like I'm his, to come inside me like I'm home.
He grabs my hand again and a thousand wildfires set themselves beneath the surface of my skin.
Please, I say inside myself, although I don't know who I'm praying to anymore.
I've lost count of how many hours I've spent watching him move through the world and being awed by it. How many nights I've pulled myself small to one side of the bed and stared at the empty valley across from me, missing him. How many times he's deftly laid me bare and valiantly licked the poison from my wounds. It's a silent tally, notches scratched into the wall of my cell with my fingernails, a thing I'll never share because I won't ruin him.
How many times I've cooked a meal for him.
Or made space for him.
Or said a prayer for him.
Or saw his face in a crowd where I knew he couldn't possibly be.
How many times I've said his name as I came, for myself and with someone else.
How often he rises from underneath the ruble I try so desperately to bury him under. How often I fail at dismissing him when he does.
His name becomes a padlock on my tongue, the honied drupe turning poisonous in my mouth.
I love him too much to ruin him.
I love him to my muteness.
Please, I say inside myself. I'm not even sure what the fuck I'm praying for anymore.