We promised. Actually looked into each other’s eyes and swore it.
We’d keep our hands off. No more kissing.
It was fine, for a while. He volunteered to post watch with Stan, the new guy; I switched to days so we’d be on opposite ends of the field.
Thing is, that means we cross paths at oh-six hundred, when I’m waking up and he’s heading in. My chest feels hot. I turn and he’s there, rumpled and smelling of grass and moonlight. I stop myself from reaching out for his hand as he brushes by. I don’t forget our promise.
In basic training
We were taught how to shoot,
How to march,
And how to fall asleep anywhere.
For the shooting, you need a gun.
For the marching, boots.
For the falling asleep, you need a letting go,
Which lives only behind your eyes,
In a canoe on a lake, flightless and floating.
Both the unknotting of joints and the uncoiling of ligaments
Ride in the hull, along with
The unhooking of the tongue that allows
Heat to slip down your throat.
Unlace, unclasp, unbind, unravel.
Dip the shoulder of the paddle
Into the lake of sleep
Ten weeks across.