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up the stairs we climb,
painted toes tap-tapping over the polished wood
you’ve only seen the grounds and the first two floors —
and my bedroom,
the last stop
if you take the old staff staircase up the back

third floor:
the housekeeper’s haven at the end,
plain and tidy
soft floral hide-a-bed facing the sitting-room window
guest room upon guest room upon guest room
nautical, spotless
you poke your head into my parents’ suite,
gape at its midnight blue elegance
their bath is my favorite place in the house:
claw-foot tub, gold and white
cavernous shower enclosed by glass
high ceilings perfect for a concert with no audience
mirrors everywhere

i stand in the doorway,
reflected at all angles
watching myself watch you
as you take it all in
there’s an expression on my face
that even i don’t recognize
i want to say something,
i don’t know what
so i focus on you instead:
loose hairs escaping from your fishtail braid
tiny gold studs in your ears

and then we’re back in mine,
the entire place lit up from the sun
like a catalog photograph
i flop down in the middle of the bed,
sink an inch down into memory foam
you perch on the edge, suddenly shy
come on, i don’t bite 

you look down —
hesitate, debate
and then you’re by my side,
watermelon scent sharp and sweet
she’s not here to stop you this time

without thinking,
you put your arm around me
and without thinking
i lean my head on your shoulder
i can’t tell whose pulse is faster: yours or mine

i’m out of words to say,
so i just turn to you
and close
the distance
between us

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