When blackberries are so full to bursting, they froth against the tongue, that’s how we swallowed love. Call it indulgence, the luxury of fruit that stains the hands. With each one I plant into your mouth I’m sowing seeds, nectar black as ink running down my fingers. Says we drank in so much sunlight we hold excess—here, take, eat! This is my body given to you. So, this is my heart open for you. Taste sweetness and know that it is good. Call it abundance, living in a state of overflow.
And still. Over time, we wash our hands of the love that fed us until all that’s left is red on red. Not your blood, or mine, just swallowed sunshine and a heart that ripens as it’s plucked.
It’s summer and we’re sitting in front of the mirror, glass echoing nothing but ourselves. Two bodies framed against a blue-washed afternoon. One bright open room alive with June and liquid light sinks into every corner. We are warm, and shy, and soaking in our laughter. You are cutting my hair. I’m ready for the show, sitting cross-legged in my underwear on a plush teal cushion. You have no clue what you’re doing. But you treat the task at hand like weaving silk, somewhere in the balance between nervous concentration and hey, this is some kind of magic.
Looking at my body in the glass I feel delicate. I can’t figure out why, at first. You’ve seen me many times before. But the weight of hushed breaths steeping in the air tells me: this is new. Do you sense it too? Something about this act feels more intimate than anything we’ve ever shared. Fingers comb through strands they know so well, the same ones they brush aside when you kiss my forehead over breakfast. A familiar gentleness. The mirror clears its throat. Propped against a chair in the middle of the room, it notes the seed of a smile, shared, when I catch your eyes in the reflection. Like passing love back and forth between dimensions. Observing all our motions, each stolen glance, each touch unfolding. Small intimacies exchanged within its heavy brass frame.
Mirror speaks to window, what do you see?
Window speaks to mirror, day by day they find new ways to reach each other.
The room is alive with June. There are parts of myself scattered across the wooden floor as the silver scissors we found in the back of the cabinet makes light work of long dark hair. There are parts of me scattered everywhere. The back of an earring, the socks under your bed. The song I showed you last winter floating from the kitchen as you’re cooking dinner. I find parts of you too, of course. You show up when I’m telling a joke, your mannerisms mirrored, your phrases woven into mine. See? This is how to fall.
First, give fragments of yourself, tiny offerings to be absorbed. Like so. Tell me why you haven’t been back to your hometown and I’ll tell you why I was always afraid of the stars. Let us learn each other. Next, exchange a ritual or two. Like so. When the brightness of noon settles, hair is swept aside to kiss the space behind an ear. When midnight rings electric, a thumb strokes skin, to trace the small of a back. And slowly, as the days blush, you give parts of yourself so freely, a little more, a little more, until there comes a moment when suddenly you realise—you have swapped hearts. To consume and be consumed.
Remember how spring grew and the wind breathed green into the cherry trees. Blossom waved good morning through the window in clouds of pink, murmurations swimming on the breeze. You and me, cradling cups of black coffee with just a drop of honey. How summer seeped into the skyline. When evening falls, the candles begin to speak. Here, take, light! These are our bodies given to you. Flames flickering on the table between our hands as you pour another glass of wine. They offer to light the background of our stories, wax melting in tune with voices. Sometimes the conversation sinks into the quiet hours, and on these nights the candles say look, look turning to another, night by night they find new ways to see each other.
Now and then, I’d think of the people passing by the street below. Strangers glancing up at all the windows with their lights on. Moments of sonder. Every square carrying its own little world with all of its own complexities. Or I’d think of the neighbours on the other side of the crescent and wonder how we looked from there. Two silhouettes sitting at the table every night, talking, laughing, sometimes even dancing, always basking in the orange glow. Can you see it from the outside looking in? Spring turning into summer turning into love? I think if you look closely, you could watch as it happens. Observe the tenderness inside the everyday.
In the end, this is what we miss the most. Time passes and we no longer remember all these subtleties. The way your hair falls when you step out of the shower, the lilt in your voice as it wraps around my name. How your face unfurls in the afternoon light. Spring arrives each year to paint over the last and slowly, surely, we lose more pieces until there comes a moment when suddenly I realise—it is time to forget. But this scene? This scene I choose to keep alive. One perfect memory.
I am feeding you blackberries on a Saturday afternoon. You are cutting my hair in the living room. You smile to yourself. I smile at your smile caught in the glass. We take a photo, two bodies framed in reflection, capturing an affection you could reach out and hold. And I’m holding it now. It’s a little faded, the date scrawled in blue ink on the back, but as I turn it over, I know what it will say. In my hands, once more, the mirror talks. It speaks a simple truth we understood in this moment but somewhere along the way, we would lose sight of:
You were happy here. And everything around you was touched by this magic. Brought to life to bear witness as day by day and night by night, you found new ways to love each other.
Yes, I remember it well. The mornings washed in gold. The room alive with June.
Siam is a Burmese writer living in the UK. She studied Literature and Theology and is currently working on a collection of folktales thanks to the Jessica Yorke writing scholarship. She is also a Prose and Poetry editor for Persephone's Daughters, a journal for survivors of abuse. You can find her @siamhatzaw.