when you challenge him in anything
he turns to you the face of a scolded child
before indignation overcomes him
from the eyebrows down.
when he lies through his teeth
there’s a barefacedness about it
that almost makes you reel,
that almost makes you believe.
he lacks the grace to blush
when that might have been enough.
but you melt inside to hear
that laughter like a welcome home,
a retreat into the recent but irredeemable past,
when the way you held each other
was light as you might cradle an injured dove
that flew into your backyard fence one evening,
but ferocious and all-consuming in its tenderness.
you remember the days
you wandered off the trail
lost in a complicated argument
of not quite the whole truths
and sheltering in pizza parlour bars
while the rain came down like doomsday
on the tetons, left feeling inconsequential,
as people clutching strange instruments
cluster in around you for a hootenanny.
maze of creases on his face
from a crumpled pillowcase
like a map back into his childhood
when his mother might shake
him gently awake for school.
he suddenly seems defenceless
when you rouse him at 3 am
bewildered and plaintive
and you forgive him before
he can even begin to apologise.
Photo by Chantal