by Irving Kenneth Zola


Your head is turned to one side and the flickering candle lights up your greying hair. You smile as I begin to caress you and let your hand rest on my shoulder. You look so peaceful.

Peaceful. . . .I used to cringe when anyone described a relationship in those terms. And yet that's what I feel with you....peaceful, safe, comfortable. Can I really be in a relationship without turmoil....without longing.......without pain? A part of me gets scared when I let this in, makes me feel it shouldn't be so easy.

You move your head without opening your eyes and I remember when we first met. It was an outdoor concert, and I claimed that the only place I could park my wheelchair...and still hear was next to your Amigo. It was a lie. From the outset, we were very straightforward, careful to define the boundaries and problems.....all before we ever touched. Both of us said we had a lifestyle that we wanted to continue. Both of us said we were too old to make long-term plans. Both of us said we didn't know what the word 'love' meant.

But it's been a long time and here we are....still together. No commitments.....and still we manage to see each other weekly.

We've talked about moving closer together, but not together. You complained that it was too far to park and walk - sometimes you said waddle -- from your car to my apartment. I matched you complaint for complaint. With my sixty plus years bumping over even a one inch curb wasn't as easy as it once was.

And so we negotiate. No promises and yet when one of us is hurting, the other seems to know and is there.

When we first got together I used all the curbs and thresholds I had to bump over as an excuse for tiredness and a need to stay over. You countered that it was all downhill to my house.

You're beginning to make sounds like a purring kitten. I smile happily and want to say something. You told me once about another man who always spoke during love-making. I rarely do. I'm afraid I'll say the wrong thing. Besides, tonight you told me we'd have to be extra quiet so we would not wake up your grandson.

I once tried to compose a poem for you, but that didn't work. Another time I wrote you a letter but I tore it up. I did once sing you all the lyrics to My Funny Valentine. You smiled and claimed I was just trying to prove that I didn't have Alzheimers.

I fear that after all our hesitations, all our fumblings, if I use the word love.....I'll be reneging. You'll think I'm just trying to overwhelm extract forever-like promises.

When we first became lovers you said older women get very dry and like to go slower. I told you that older men aren't in such a hurry any more.

You reach down and touch my head. With both your hands you push me in deeper.

Why aren't there any words that do as well? Is 'love' just something to fill the space when we can't think of anything else to say? But 'care' and 'appreciate' seem so bland. Yet part of me wants to be be be independent.

I didn't even tell you about my birthday, or invite you to share it with me. I wasn't afraid you'd refuse, but just that you'd think I was asking more of you than you wanted to give. I did the same thing when I went in for those tests last year. Scared as I was, I didn't tell you or my children. I went alone.

A woman who knows me quite well once said that I need not put everything into words. Maybe I don't.

Your breathing is coming faster. Your lips part as if you're about to sigh. Feel me now. Feel my hands. Let my lips, my fingers, my tongue say what I won't let my voice repeat.

Your hips rise off the bed and I hold onto your buttocks as if they were an anchor. And as I suck into you deeply, I fairly shout, "I love you. . . .I love you," but only your vagina hears.


copyright Irving Kenneth Zola