By Elizabeth

Let me sing a song for you, Isabel. Let me speak of my love for you here and now. Let me fold the happiness you have brought me into a shape that will speak of joy.

You and I, when did we begin? We discuss this and laugh, for neither of us can really remember. It doesn't matter Liz, you say. We just are, now, and that's all that counts. Smile into my eyes, Isabel, and let me see your love for me reflected there.

If I turn one day, grasp your hand, and look at the lines etched on the tender skin of your palm, (oh, that gentle palm--now I know what Shakespeare meant by the holy palmers' kiss--bless me love and make me new) what will I see? With Max, it was all shiny excitement and the fascination of the unknown. Who are you, and what have you made me?

But with you-that first step towards loving you, finding out that you are as complex and as fragile as the rest of us-it was coming home. You and I are not alike, yet we complete each other. It is not a lyric, it is not the poetry that I want to give you-it is trite words that belong on a greeting card-and you deserve more. See how you muddle me, Isabel? See how my love for you makes me reach for those heights I think no one can scale?

You once laughed and told me I was a madness, your madness, and that you wouldn't have it any other way. If it had been anyone else, I wouldn't have understood. How could madness be good, how could you compare what we have to something that is itself without order?

I like the order that comes with science. While others may struggle with classifications, with terms that categorize and catalog, I find them as easy to remember as my own name, as automatic as breathing. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

See? That's simple, it's understandable. I like that about science. I like the absolute in it, the way that even the unknown can become knowable. But desire and love can't be categorized. They elude organization, flee from structure. They just are, and that can be a strange thing to deal with. Yet my love and my desire for you are my joy, even if the categorization of my wanting you, of my loving you, can not be found. I thrive without order now, and that is the lyric I have for you. Let me sing.

At first, wanting is anything, wanting you was everything. The way you held a pencil. The way you walked down the hall, the way you glided through a crowd, intent on your purpose, your walk sure and strong. I used to feel a faint, hot tremor of excitement when you would fiddle with the top button on your shirt, a slow teasing that would bring a smile to my face even as I would wait, anxiously, to see a hint of your flesh.

After our first real fight-the one that left both of us crying and scared and furious with ourselves and each other, it was the part in your hair, revealed to me as you leaned over to make a point, to make your emphasis known. I ran my finger down it, the ridges of scalp, the spring of your hair, and melted.

Later, now-it's different things. The talks we have-the shared stories, the knowledge about ourselves. The pauses; a gentle silence that falls, no worries, we are just being. The way you will come over to my house and sink into the sofa, legs swinging over the side with an easy familiarity. The feel of your arm as it rests near mine, the gentle clasp of your fingers. The hollow where your shoulder meets your arm, the skin there, so soft, so smooth. So you.

I think of it, my love for you. What makes it shift, what makes it change and reinvent itself so that each day with you is something new, a present that I can savor ? I used to think that I could create myself and my world, build my own paradise. But it never works that way, does it? I'm happier than I've ever been, but the world has shifted, and I don't see myself as the creator anymore.

We create together. When I see you, when I touch you, hold you--we are creating ourselves. When I kiss you, the electric taste of you sliding into my mouth, the sensation of my hands touching you, the knowledge that the light in your eyes, that faint happy glow, is caused by me; it may not be the paradise I always envisioned, but that just makes it more unique, more of a delight. My paradise came as a surprise; blonde and tall and strong, with eyes that promise things I never realized existed--and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

And now, the right now, the perfect now, the now that I never want to end-now I am with you. I have come to see you, have placed myself in your room, which bears only the surface gloss of your touch, the faintest hint of who you are. The real Isabel is infinitely more complex and dizzying than the array of pictures on the wall, than the pile of makeup on the dresser, than the clothes that line the closet. The real Isabel is the one who sneaks Tabasco sauce into my milk, feels guilty, and stops me before I can drink it. The real Isabel is the one who strides down the hallways at school, mowing down those who dare to scorn her with the acid sting of her tongue. The real Isabel is the girl who wraps a strand of her hair around her fingers when she is nervous. The real Isabel is the one who slides her hands up my arms, rests them on my shoulders, and breathes into me. "I love you."

My love for you has rendered me mute, and I can not respond, I am dazzled by the knowledge of all the Isabels, of all my Isabels. No more singing for me, then.

I place my mouth on yours. A lingering caress, and then down, sliding my mouth onto the sweet expanse of your skin. I love you. Let me show you how, let me linger in the turn where your elbow bends, let me touch the smooth skin of your stomach, glide my fingers down your thighs. I will touch you forever, and I will never have enough, you will always be a mystery that I will gladly unlock.

Your hair swings as you rise above me. There is no need for the sun, it is all there, captured in the strands of your hair. Let me touch it and feel the warmth, let me draw you closer so that it is a curtain around us, we are cocooned from the world. You and I, we know what God forgot. Paradise is here, between us, and we will never let it go.

Oh, slide your tongue on my skin, rejoice in the wet sting of goosebumps that rise in your wake. Breathe in me, on me, let me feel your love for me in the smile on your face as your lips graze my stomach. Slide your fingers inside me, we are ended and begun together, and I will want nothing other than this-you touching me, and I touching you. Let me sing. We will be, we are, just us, together, and we will strive towards what waits for us gladly.

Let the glow fall over me now. It is always a glow with you, and it doesn't descend, it falls-a sharp drop off a precipice, but I am not scared, I am never scared, for you are always there to hold me, and I will always wrap my arms around you. Afterwards, our skin will gleam, and I will show you how you make the world hum for me. I will sing because that is what I want to do.

"I love you" I say, because I am freed now, I am full of words that I must speak, and you must know that they are meant for you. I am a poet for you, as I am for no other.

You murmur a reply, soft nonsense, lover's crooning--my language, our language--and I return to you, as I always do, full of song. Yes, let my hands, my body, myself--let me touch you, let me sing of my love for you.


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