The only room in the house we can heat properly becomes the only room where I’ll let you undress me. You drag the mattress over by the radiator, and we become two teenagers, doing it on the floor of the den where no one can hear us. Welcome to the love shack, you say, unbuttoning your shirt. You look like an eager young cowboy with his first woman. Outside, the persimmon tree is losing the last of its rusty leaves. The peach trees are already bare and witchlike, the lemon tree shivers in the cold rain. In here, it’s warming up. I’m wearing the sapphire dress and black tights. At first you want me with my dress on, then you lift it over my head until we’re naked and tangled together, our long, pale limbs flushing the color the magnolia will be in a few months. Your face gets hot, your lips loose and wet and soft like a young boy. We are going back, going back, through the detritus of adulthood, marriages to other people, jobs, journeys when the car broke down, when the check bounced, when nobody came to the rescue. And then younger: the lonely, brilliant teenage years, me writing poetry fanatically in my room, you teaching yourself Beethoven by force of will, practicing without a teacher, rudderless. There is no teacher for this. I’ve heard the stories of your childhood, roaming over the hills and vacant lots in suburban Michigan. That land has all been bulldozed. I imagine your mother pushing you out of her, headfirst into this crazy world. I am stroking the hair back from your sweaty forehead and whispering, Baby. Road of flesh, road of blood: when you get to this point, there’s no turning back.