play date

image by Ed Gregory from pexels — CC0 licensed

The shirtless stranger walks along the beach
and when he passes you,
as you are sunning and picnicking with your two friends
he smiles and waves

You smile and frown back, a mixed message,
waving half-guardedly, half-dismissively,
and, seeing that, he stops, and turns,
and begins to signal you with his hands

He points to himself, then covers his mouth with his fingers,
to convey that for some reason he cannot speak

He points to you, and then rubs his heart —
a flattery; when you laugh, he tilts his head,
points to himself, then to you, and then, smiling,
makes little walking gestures with his fingers,
and shrugs, looking at you intently with eyebrows raised:
an invitation

You smile back, skeptically, and as you meet his gaze
you shake your head, and look over at your companions,
who are laughing and urging you to go with him

He pouts, gently, and shrugs, and then turns away
then stops, turns back, points to himself
and makes pious motions with his hands,
then draws a halo symbol over his head:
to say he will not hurt you; and then
he makes a pleading motion with his hands
and reaches one arm out toward you,
beckoning you with his fingertips,
raises his eyebrows in a face of anticipation
and holds his breath

You scowl at him disapprovingly, but you are still smiling,
and he sees an almost imperceptible shift in your body,
as you rise, point at your companions, accusingly,
and then slowly walk over to him

He raises his arms in a childish expression of utter joy,
bows to you, and then, with an exaggerated swirl of his arms,
bows to your companions, and offers you his hand

You take it, and again he puts his fingers to his lips,
and then to yours,
to remind you that there is, it seems, to be no talking

As you walk, he points out things you’ve never noticed,
though you’ve tramped this beach a hundred times before:
a turtle, grazing in the shallow water among some low rocks;
seabirds diving into the pounding surf
and emerging with fish in their beaks;
the courtship of two mynas, heads bobbing,
a lovely, silly, synchronized ritual

Then from a resort near the water’s edge
comes the sound of Afro-Cuban music
and the stranger lifts your arm with his
and invites you to walk beneath it;
and you dance

His arms embrace you, steer you, lead you on,
with gentle and respectful grace

As you dance on, the stranger points out a sand-bar
a short swim out from the water’s edge;
you look at him dubiously, so he lets your arm go
and takes a few steps in, then reaches back, and nods

So you go with him, and the water is so warm —
you swim together through the pounding surf
and in no time you alight on the sand-bar
looking to those on shore
as if you walk on water

From a bag strapped to his waist,
he pulls a set of goggles,
fits them over your eyes,
then pulls you softly down into the water,
and as you open your eyes
schools of angelfish and wrasse
dart around your legs:
an underwater rainbow

Soon after, back on shore
you jump to reach some plumeria blooms,
but they are too high in the tree,
so the stranger kneels and motions you
to climb onto his shoulders
and you do

And as you thread the just-picked flowers through your hair
he walks on, his arms upraised to keep you from falling
and you tighten your bare legs around his neck
and grasp his large, soft hands

The world looks different from up there,
and you don’t even notice you’ve turned around
and are back close to your vacation home
and your friends, staring incredulously
as you approach

Gently, he lifts you down,
and bows again, to you and your companions;
you walk back into his arms, your arms around his neck,
and for the benefit of your wide-eyed hooting friends
you kiss him, slow and long and deep

And for what seems like forever
you just hold hands and look at each other,
and then, with a nod and a sigh,
he lets you go, smiles sadly, waves gently, and walks away

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1 Response to play date

  1. Reto says:

    That touched something in me, I bot wer eyes. Mayebe this intentional but also open come-together of a man and a woman and exploring a different kind oft love … beautifull.

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