TO LOVE ANOTHER ______ IS TO SEE THE FACE OF ___
When the poppies first appear, she is shocked they aren’t red. Two grey flowers bursting through carefully amended soil. Their grey reminds her of the cliff she and her friends used to jump off in summer. The cliff they once coveted as theirs. After the poppies grow, she thinks to bring them to the cliff and hold them over the water. She wants the flowers to reveal themselves to her.
As children, they would hold dolls—dresses stitched with fresh flowers—over the water’s surface. Unearthing a true face from their reflection. She remembers the way the sometimes-rippling surface changed their features. Turned smiles to grimaces, goods to bads. She often conflates this memory with another. Of water. Of whistles and shouts. Of friends face down, afloat. Of blues and purples and fists pounding on chests.
The cliff crumbles like shortbread under her weight, sending soft crumbs toward the water. Carefully, she places the poppies on the ground. Imagines her floating friends. Nothing about this place—not the thick heat nor the crackling branches nor the brimming ache from breastbone to throat—feels like her memory of it.
She’s too high above the water to see her own reflection, but she looks down anyway. Allows her feet to dangle loosely over the edge. Is she somewhere in that far-below? Are her lips turning? Her eyes swelling open or rippling shut? She reaches one hand toward the water and places the other on her cheek. One of them meets wet. The un-red poppies tumble toward the water and barely make a splash.