2 voices: hour of the faun
one| 5:06 am
Early mornings before the sun moves forward, you rise.

Slow. Determined to shake off the grip of night. Then pause on the edge of the bed. Head in hands. You wake not knowing already I lie aware of the hour unclosing outside. Soft blue shifts across the cityscape, enters the room.

I watch as you pause. As you sit. The arch of your back motions through the light. Without wings, the rough slope of your shoulders slips into a tight landscape, with valleys and curving trails of your physical mold. Your smooth athletics.

I watch (with you unaware that I watch) the division of light and shade between us, me under warm shadows. You surge forward, into a halo – no, rather into common, ritual stretches, habitual transformations of the body. Folded origami of the limbs: a monk in prayer, a saltwater crane. As liquid shape-shifter you assume forms in variety. Subtle arrangements of torso, thigh, arm.

With these physical motions I envy the mere breath curling inside your warm lungs, or the thickening, regular blood pulse which confirms the humanity within – that spirit encased between levels of bone, muscle – the uncloven pine of your chest –

Until one last transformation, stepping into running gear. Bent in half you shift into a casual, sinewy faun with unkempt hair, flexing a bare thigh. Then release. From behind the cathedral of your golden stance, the sudden sun pulls out its presence. Against the deepening light you step outside into full morning. The hour aligns, opens.
With your absence, the warm room exhales.

two| 5:38 am

Stepping outdoors, summer inhales, swallows me deep inside its warm mouth—even now at this early hour, humidity holds fast, takes hold only after a block of a brisk pace: the self merges with the empty street, the rhythm of my own quickened breathing—the same tempo of your hands in the night, clenching and unclenching as we lie, side by side, my fingers tracing the outline of your smile, the contour of your hips lifting under my touch.

Even the awkward scar over your heart I softly fingertip, following the crooked path of the former wound. It lies defiantly open, almost as a scrawled number on a chalkboard, a hasty winding of a broken spiral.

So easy to dwell on tidal impulses now, with the rise and fall of the bed's landscape settling into memory; my face and hands rubbed raw with the imprint of your unhesitant motions.

The park's treescape unfolds its arms, leans closer: darkly verdant, rough umber. The vague remains of a forgotten wilderness. I fall inside, under the cold-morning shadows, surrounded tight with the same close degree of your smile leaning back in release.

An opportunity for pause, to catch my breath. Leaning against a tree, I shift my feet, rotating the ankle of one foot. Then the other.

One would almost expect Father Pan himself to emerge from the overhead branches of the gnarled oak and the creeping ivy. With throaty laughter and leaves, pine needles tangled in his whiskers. An eager, ever-lustful gleam. Calloused fingers tugging, stroking. Rising to the opportunity. Approaching any possibility.

That moment. Always that moment repeats in my head—that sudden anticipated surge when language fails, the body entirely uncoils into a drawn out sound, a single drawn out note, an arm slipping free of the sleeve of a winter coat—

But the sound of reality breaks into my thoughts. Traffic increases in the side streets, signaling time to move forward, back into the day at hand. The rapid decay of my orbit swings. Back into the ritual of the day.

Eric Croweson
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