Illustration by Alice Maiden

The company of ice marches through, two-one-three two-one-three, and disappears around the bend. It, with its endless appendages propelling forward, swells into one grainy stripe of red, knocking about our sealed eyes. That torpid tenderness, spread over the two of us: across it all, we absorb the streams of rust and melt that the ice sheds in streams. But the conversion of rock into gravel and loose sediment begins to accelerate, pushing past the natural limits of colonization. The unending and almost crawling mew of migration is too loud, the blur of melt rushing into orifices too bright. I lose sound and sight of our shared pulse, as I gently arc to fit the crest of her.

The ice only moves to get out of the way, just enough, like how I never grow but to fill her vacant space. Just enough. The melt swells and I with it. There is nothing left to listen to except for her, muffled, and the beat of the churning gravel underway. The little curl is at my feet and shrinking, expelling melt, so fast and without mercy. Flattening against the curve of my knees. I will myself to shrink like it and expel water, for water to re-enter and animate this imprint in my stead. But melting goes only one way and growth streams in the other. This whispery husk matches my outline and by the time I am hunched over and halved like a broken wheel, I am wrapped all the way around it. In the crash of one final tide, we overlap. In the birth of night, we are interlocking curls again.

When she pushes us out, we are concentric, one tiny loop and one loop swollen to life-size. All the ice has melted. All the rocks gone home. When she pushes me out into this dulled silence, rough only at the edges, I am two. I am starting. I know and love him, and her, but him above all.