Our breathing is still rapid, labored, but starting to calm. Your hands are entwined with mine above my head. Your lips look bruised from our passionate kisses when you lean in to kiss my lips again, then my forehead before you carefully untangle yourself from me.
I don’t know what comes next. This is the first time that we have made love and everything is new, unfamiliar. Our bodies are relaxed but the emotional intimacy between us is still fragile, as delicate as a globe of hand-blown glass.
You lay yourself next to me on your side, facing me. I rotate my body toward you, now on my side as well. We are inches from each other. I am aware that this almost feels more naked than when our bodies were joined. I can feel the warmth coming off your body, the dampness of your skin. Our scents mingle together in the air. You must notice my goosebumps, my skin chilled without your enveloping warmth. You pull the covers up to our shoulders and under the sheets you drape your leg over mine, offering me your body heat.
Your head is cradled on your bent arm. I have never had this opportunity before to look so directly into your eyes. They are a startling blue, even in this low light, your lashes almost colorless. Your reach out and touch my cheek, caressing it with your palm and then with the back of your hand. Your hand then moves slowly down my shoulder, brushing my arm, searching for my hand under the covers, which you clasp.
You bring my hand to your mouth and kiss my knuckles one by one. You have not broken eye contact with me and I wonder idly what you are thinking right now but decide not to ask. I will settle for the mystery and warmth in your eyes. Your hand again starts to travel up my arm slowly, resting on my shoulder.
I reach out and touch your face. Your beard is surprisingly soft. I trace your cheekbone, finally feeling at liberty to really look at you, to explore you. There is a new knowing between us but so much we still haven’t learned yet, despite our coupling only moments ago. I want to memorize you with my eyes, smell your skin and breath, paint you using all my senses, create muscle memory in my palms, in my lips so I will be able to recall the feel of you, the taste of you, the way you look right now in this moment. In this after, when the rest of the world has fallen away and there is only you and I.
Christine E. Ray lives outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A former Managing Editor of Sudden Denouement Publications, she founded Indie Blu(e) Publishing with Kindra M. Austin in September 2018. Ray is the author of the award-winning Composition of a Woman and The Myths of Girlhood. Her writing is also featured in SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like: Poetry by Women for Women an Anthology, We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art, Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, Swear to Me, and All the Lonely People. Read more of her work at Brave & Reckless.