Jack Balas, 2018; THE FROST RAILING (Study) (#1565); watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 30" X 22"

We climbed out of the pool, Josh and I, and into the lockers, a cold day swimming outside, so when we came in we were actually steaming. It was the one time I'd seen him naked as he stepped out of his Speedo, porcelain smooth and cut like a GI Joe, standing there motionless thinking of something. He lives now where something unthinkable happened in the world the other day and he listed himself as "safe" on FaceBook. But he grew up in Flagstaff and I think of it and then him as the cottonwood in the drive turns gold, Flagstaff where I first spent autumn nights soaking up woodsmoke and downtown neon and, come morning, log cabin cafes thick with wool and steamy windows. My deck railing is covered with frost this October morning, its diamond crust steaming off in sunrise as my hands grasp my coffee, the hard smooth porcelain cup steaming up at me. I think I may dig a pool today, maybe right here on the deck, fill it, call Josh, tell him to come for a swim. Safe.