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Winter Acoustics

Snow continues to fall, and in this room they have borrowed, a muffled intimacy of quilt swish and window creak: winter acoustics-(only in New York, she thinks, are apartments loaned like clothing)-and somehow during the night, the radiator has learned a parlor trick: Listen, she sits up, nudges him, it sounds like a baby sneezing, then, moments later, No, it's a dog barking, and she senses a momentary interruption in his breathing-a decision made-before he turns over, burrows further into his pillow, and the sting this leaves is swift and surprising; as she slides back into their quilt envelope, she is careful not to touch him-her own silent snub-but then, from the other side of the bed: Oil can, he says, then pauses, as if searching for a vintage, copper spout, handle pump; and outside, visible now through the window: heavy, pink-laced snow clouds, a gauzy, low-hanging sun-the world is leaning closer today-and inside: a rumble in her throat as she swallows, the soft lisp of skin touching skin.

©Stephanie Harrison, first published in Denver Quarterly