Margot Comstock
Tamara stands on the deck of the Mount Lemmon Grill, gazing at the lights of Tucson shimmering like a liquid mirage over the desert 25 miles away. No one else has chosen to enjoy the view on this unusually cold February evening. 

Tamara likes being alone; she enjoys her own company. She senses something special about this moment alone in the cold desert night.

A wave of swallows sweeps by, circles easily around Tamara, and flies on. One breaks from the others and circles back, hovers near her for a tiny moment, then soars skyward to follow the flock. Sure, there were some advantages to partnership, Tamara supposes. It has been so many years since she considered it. Decades really. Nearly a lifetime.

Suddenly, Tamara’s body tingles and her lips part. Herbert. She hasn’t thought of him in years, and now her whole being is suffused with longing for him.

All because of a bird.

It was a seagull that time, and California, not Arizona. Only days after Herbert’s death, friends took her to a restaurant in Big Sur. It too had a deck, and as she stood on it, apart from her friends, watching the swelling waves below, a flock of seagulls passed by. Like the maverick swallow, one seagull lingered, circling above her, until she gave it her attention. Then he dipped and bowed and finally soared aloft and away. She imagined (berating herself for foolishness) that the gull came from Herbert, offering a final good-bye.

Now a swallow. What are swallows doing flying at night anyway?

A love so deep and tactile fills her, turns her to liquid, steals her breath. Herbert. She feels weak and strong and full at the same time. She feels huge and expansive, one with the earth and sky and universe beyond.

Her eyes close, and when she opens them she thinks she sees the seagull—although of course that couldn’t be, here in the desert—and that he is urging her to fly with him.

Then the bird changes its shape and what remains is like smoke, liquid smoke. She reaches for it and it becomes transparent. It engulfs her. 

She is frightened. But the shape—fluidly stretching, changing, flowing—gently caresses her and her fear dissolves in pleasure. She feels again the powerful love, the longing for Herbert, and finds herself reaching for the shape. 

But Tamara’s shape too has changed. There is no Tucson, no Big Sur, no Earth. Somewhere in the cosmos, she and Herbert are intertwining and mingling, becoming each other, filling each other in exquisite harmony. This is love, more sensual, penetrating, and magnificent than Tamara could ever have imagined.

And it is for eternity.

First published: May, 2013
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