When You Love Somebody
He blushed each time he spoke with her and in any instance they became
near enough to touch. She wasn't called attractive but caused him to
react as though she were. Just her in his periphery ruined his throat.
He knew her title and place but little else. They and those around them
arrived in the morning and in the evening exited while the company for
which they poked keyboards and followed protocols made money as a well
crafted motor might cycle through its revolutions, body carving
Many days she appeared nearly unkempt, her dress sufficiently pressed
and cuffs creased professionally atop her pumps but her hair wild in an
un-deliberate way, taken by the weather, spun and further unaddressed.
He took comfort in this, her collision with the world.
At the day's beginning she placed things in a cubby as did he,
belongings deposited as they'd've been in kindergarten when he'd arrive
thick in winter clothing with his boxed lunch and put each unneeded
layer away in an assigned cube to inevitably be fondled by someone who
shouldn't, who took liberties he wouldn't.
In her cubby one morning were a brown velvet hard-hat which he had to
resist knocking, a set of mud-covered jodhpur boots, and a pair of gear
which made him think of his own shins guarded for summer night games
when he worked as a forward to kick the ball toward its goal.
Her storage space, as was everyone's, was small, but each item fit and
also her bag, her raincoat, her insulated foods. In a back corner he
saw a short stick that he knew was a whip, leaned and black and
His brother had shown horses and he might tell her this, though not his
distrust of the animals: their quick yellow teeth and prominent veins.
His brother had been the prettiest man he knew and for this this man
was prideful, them sharing blood and so, he hoped, some form of
elegance, too. Inside himself, somewhere, he kept a gorgeous animal.
At the zoo, when he'd visited with a niece, he'd been smitten with the
ocelot and in the gift shop selected an expensive amber marble to
remind himself of the cat's keen unblinking eyes.
Your eyes were this color, he said to his niece and pointed to a
picture of a cub's in newborn blue.
My eyes are green, she said.
But, he insisted, first they came in blue. All babies' do. Even these.
I don't like cats, said his niece.
I never did, either, he said.
One afternoon he went for water and so had the woman, them
simultaneously at the kitchen sink. There'd been no helmet or whip
since the once but still he hurriedly began: My brother showed horses,
recalling that sibling draped theatrically around an animal's wet neck,
the boy having been called champion.
Each horse had been more exorbitantly priced than the last.
She said nothing and he wondered had he spoken or had this urge towards
her only further entrapped his senses, ears feigning sounds and his
He'd been known those long years as "his brother" while his brother was
clapped and congratulated and requested and this brother was asked by
their mother who looked while she did so regretful to please shine
L—'s boots before he got a leg up to the saddle, at last his
final, best animal heaving around them.
His brother didn't jump or rope cows but wore a derby and three-piece
suit whose pants flared at their bottoms. His ties were showily bright
and he taped gloves' wrists closed around his own. At the end of his
career, at the world's championships, his brother asked him to help
line his eyes lightly in their mother's kohl.
I'm shaking, his brother said, trembling there in his dress shirt,
cufflinks rustling, his narrow, looming frame belted into its fitted
thighs and waist. His suit was dark and in the left side of his hat was
a speckled feather tucked into the band and fanned against the felt.
Birds are filthy, this then-boy had replied, him only the youngest and
annoyed, aping their mother's menacing tone from when he'd once bent to
nurse a hatchling jay and been made to leave it.
His brother stomped childishly and said: I mean it! I can't do this
His brother was eighteen while he'd turn twelve the Tuesday following
their return home from this show. The sister between them was
underdeveloped and remained in the care of an unmarried aunt. When
shown pictures of her brother exiting rings with tri-colored ribbons
pinned to his horse's headstall, mare's nostrils flared and front
hooves lifting even higher than the trainers had hoped for or boasted
was possible, as if, this youngest brother thought, to kick her face
free of its fuss, their sister grabbed her cheeks too near her eyes and
craned her head back and womped elbows together and squealed at the
It's too much, his brother said, and their father said: She's fine.
She's cheering you on.
Soon at the sink both their glasses were filled, the water fast and
cold still, neither cranking it off.
We should go, she said softly.
I'd rather not, he said, then laughed like a gasp and leaned heavily,
hot and damp, against the counter. She didn't leave but leaned there,
His brother before his class knelt upon the turf of the dressing room
and looked up as they'd seen their mother at her mirror do.
Does she know? asked the youngest, and his brother said: She won't
You'll look like a girl, said the youngest.
Just go easy, his brother warned.
He exhaled and bent towards and held that boy's face in his fingertips,
not having known his sibling's age before like this, skin to skin, his
Steady now, said his brother, and he began carefully to draw.