'God's in the water,' he said. I looked at the river; it was calm but cold. When something was cold, even when it was not frozen or frosted, it looked cold. He seemed like he was drunk, although I could not say. Very often the homeless seemed so, but they were not.
'How do you know?'
'Because it's pretty,' he said. He must have sat down on the bench by me when I was busy with my smoke. He looked cold too, but he endured it better with lesser clothing.
He's in everything pretty then? He did not answer. Autumn? Spring? He did not answer. My own views of God was limited - I did visit places of worship but it was because they gave me a certain measure of peace. I did not pray nor speak to God directly, as people do.
'Is God in the cold?' I said, trying to make conversation. All your inhibitions sank when you were faced with a common foe. The cold seemed to be ours and I was also tipsy.
'God's in pretty things. Leaves. The water… pretty things.'
I would have thought he was a crazy man; there were many such people that roamed the City. It attracted them, like it attracted me - when our clothes were stripped away, I felt, we were no different than them; only, less lively. Somewhere, a musician was playing. There were always buskers playing in unexpected corners of London, and when they did not play for money, they played for themselves. We listened to the music and watched the Thames. That night ended when the morning arrived and a beautiful sunrise came upon Westminster Bridge - the barges and boats began to move and people began working in their jobs but that killed the music. A piece of the cold clung to my heart.
Years later, when I returned to S one night, I saw her great hair cover her breasts. Women often slept with their clothes unless their men were present. She was naked; she had been waiting for me. I cannot remember why I returned late - I wish I had not. When I slipped in I felt the warmth and it was as though the cold I had held in my heart began to melt. Her skin did that to me. Every time an organ froze from the years of pain, her skin thawed it in bed. I never thanked her for that. Even in her sleep, she looked a little sad. Where did all that energy come from in the day? I drew the duvet away and saw her skin. For a man that has had a long day, the first touch of his beloved is like an answered prayer. I combed her coarse hair with my fingers and thought about the waves of the sea - when in love, even men start thinking in imagery. Touffu, I thought again.
It did not take me long to remember what the homeless man said. If God hid in everything beautiful - in the dead leaves of autumn and the renewed ones of spring, in the foams of the ocean and its creatures within, in the melody of a musician and in all the things that we should not kill - then, I thought, as I saw the pallid light touch the curve of her pelvis, He must hide in her too.