matt pond PA

March 6, 2018

How Long is This Hug Going to Last?

Imperceptible smoke signals float from my ears and I am caught against the collar of your winter coat. I smell lavender and sweat, aged water trapped in a green poly blend.

We initially embraced in the way that embraces begin. Two faint smiles meet, limbs lifting in reaction to opposite lifting limbs, reaching for passage past and through the underarm arch, all the way to the back plains, to the spinal ravine that splits us the same.

I’m not frightened of hugging. This isn’t an indictment of the act, this isn’t a rebuke of you. But I don’t understand the universal acceptance of pressing our bodies up against each other to say hello. I prefer saying hello. I prefer saving the good stuff for the right ones in the steamy radiance of spring, the dismal fog of autumn. At airports, on Thanksgiving. The Last Call Hug after we’ve barely finished a beer yet spoke all night. Before we both go home alone, one last innocent bunt up the first-base line — we’re out.

Seconds feel like hours, the hug marches on. Panic builds into frenzied daydreams of escape, of being the last person alive and running through a wide-open field of late summer grass. And then, exhausted, acquiescence down to the delirious knotted kingdom of roots and bugs.

Animals hug. Elephants do so to console each other in times of distress, touching faces, touching trunks. Yet I am increasingly distressed by a conscripted act that’s supposed to feel good.

One hug will not destroy us. But sometimes it feels like every ounce is weighing me down, squeezing me dry, not only trying to destroy me, trying to destroy our souls alike — a heist, a corruption of the grandest proportions in the most miniature of actions.

I don’t care if anyone reads my smoke signals. If you are here, I won’t know it. If you like this, I won’t know it. If you think I’m a bilious, grandiloquent fuckface, I won’t know it.

It only matters if it matters.

When the hug is over, I realize I was wrong. Not always, but often enough and especially this time — as we depart, your soft face shows me that you more-than-sarcastically care, an indisputable museum smile in the afternoon, infinite hope, turning and gone. Next time, let’s just kiss.