Paper

I only saw him once, the origami man, but in my neighborhood, for months you could see evidence of his passing wherever you looked: a paper crane, leaning against a napkin holder at the coffee shop down the street; a pyramid of expandable balloons piled inside the newspaper dispenser outside the liquor store; a different zoo animal–elephants, tigers, hippos–slipped into each baguette at the corner cheese shop. Once I found a red dragonfly hidden in an azalea bush, and I took it home and put it in my kitchen. Another time it was an origami penis, made out of newsprint, and this I kept by my bedside table for a week, until I started to feel awkward about it. Why, I don’t know. I supposed I was afraid that I would spontaneously invite a barista or musician home with me one evening and find myself having to explain why I had a paper member there, beside my alarm clock and my photo of my father at the ocean.

I have never invited a man spontaneously to my bed. The thought has been in my head before, but it’s never anything that I ever acted upon.

I would have invited the origami man however, in those days, those days between finding the penis and my hiding it away in a cigar box in my attic. I would have told him how much I enjoyed discovering fragments of him on my walks through the neighborhood, and how my trips to the market turned from my needing milk or tea and into an excuse to try to find signs of his passing in the world outside my door.

I would have kissed him, if he’d have let me.

I won’t say where I saw him finally, or what he was doing, or what he looked like, freed from my imagination and let loose into the actual world, no longer just my dream of what he was.

But I still would have kissed him if he’d have let me.

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