like in one of those swedish films

LAKE WATER SWIM, under an azure sky, the water body enclosed in rolling fingers of pastures and hills, with two young women in bonnets and summer dresses navigating the lake’s surface in the far off distance in a row boat. At the other end, a nude dip. My fellow swimmer has enormous bare breasts that keep her at the surface. “Like balloons!” she says proudly. Without the buoyancy of salt, I struggle to float, and only the top of the water is warm, down below you can feel the cool waters off the bottom of the lake unfurling themselves in gusts of current, like curtains toyed with by a summer’s breeze. Down there are dark reeds and dark fish. Sometimes you can almost feel them glide by. Afterward we climb through a mossy cemetery to her place, where the rest of that stuff ensues. Everything is backward in these rituals though. Supposedly, we are the men, and we are the ones who want it, and they are the women, and they are the ones who give it, but in this interchange, there is both hesitance and curiosity on both parts. By the time it’s over, I have but a fleeting sense of self, my ego bashed like a soft yellow squash. I used to cry out in these moments, cry out for some idea of someone else, cry out for some idea of soul or of love, but these days I am just quiet and drink my cup of water and try to make some small talk. “This is just like in one of those Swedish films,” I tell her. “What do you mean exactly?” she asks me. I don’t say. She knows what I mean.

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