“Haiku on Skin” by Len Kuntz was first published in F(r)iction #11.
Haiku on Skin
She wants it to be yesterday, last year, the night of their honeymoon, with the taste of nectarines dripping on his lips, the night outside their hotel window revealing a shy, gunmetal gray moon. He had been as gentle as she’d guessed he would be, boyish almost in the furtive way his hands roamed her skin, drawing out swaths of goose flesh, making up haikus on the spot, writing the words across her ribs and belly.
The morning after, they wanted to try the French place for breakfast but once there, he realized he’d forgotten his wallet. Back at their room, he found the door cracked open and thought it might be Housekeeping. When he called out, “Hello,” the thieves rushed him from behind and after several frantic moments of scuffling, her husband was flung from the window.
Now, on their one year anniversary, she brings in a bowl of nectarine slices, their sweet scent enveloping the room.
He couldn’t remember anything prior to the fall, not the night before, not even that she’s his wife. Memories are something he can’t make now and she’s learned to work around that, to focus on the essence of him, the man she fell in love with and still loves to her core.
Getting into bed, she says, “Scoot over a little. Come closer.”
“Why?” he asks.
She bites off a chunk of nectarine and dabs it across his lips.
“What are you doing?”
Naked flat-backed on the mattress, she takes his hand and splays his fingers apart.
“Write a haiku on my skin,” she says.
“I can’t write a haiku. Poetry isn’t my thing,”
His eyes are dull gray dimes, but she’s not ready to give up.
“It’s easy, just three short lines,” she says.
“This is crazy.”
“Come on. Try,” she says, leading his fingers toward her flesh. “I’ll help.”
At the touch of her skin, his eyes widen—and in them she swears she can make out a flicker of recognition, like the moon momentarily coming out from behind a passing cloud.
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and the author of four books: three story collections and one poetry collection, The Dishonesty of Certain Mirrors, recently released from Cervena Barva Press. You can find more of his work at his website.