Poetry. Writerly Advice. Memoir. Literary Analysis. Book Reviews. Serious Journalism.
On the trail traveled by my bare feet— by my mother’s, father’s sister’s, brothers’, daughter’s, dogs’, tourists’, every year. The path, usually littered with boot prints and broken lures was clean— an erased chalkboard. It circled the lake, which was never the same size twice, found me on it alone. The quiet humming of motor boats and splashes of kayak paddles could be heard across the still water to the river’s mouth. It was summer, no autumn when the needles smothered the red clay like a woven Miwok basket, when I found myself a sparkling pinecone, wet from the licks of the lake. Ice had glued itself to the scale tips. The color was mahogany, the reddish brown of my hair after giving birth. The cone clung to the branch that had left its mother (or perhaps the mother expelled it from her trunk because of the weight) the way an infant is attached to a snipped umbilical cord— slimed over with moss, bristled with bark from growth—the only memory it would have of ever having been connected to another living thing. I couldn’t help but carry it over the forged, yet raw terrain tracing the lakes edges. The knocking of blue jays and the crinkling of scattered squirrels bounced off the granite. The smooth clay mixed between my toes. We traveled together until the end where I sailed the cone out into the frigid waters to return home.
He’s dressed himself by nightlight
today at the cherry-stained hightop
he perches a cider glass as tall as a heron
between his trigger fingers,
over the speakers, a song everybody knows
blares— he mouths the words and dances--
the girl, two seats back smiles,
sucks ketchup from her brisket-sized fingers.
The room was dark; one light provided its glimmer to the room. The two girls sat in front of the screen, chattering about a trip. Lena reached for Teresa’s arm. She squeezed it in excitement. Lena knew that this would be the only way to get Teresa to consider what she was about to ask her to do. They perused the Craig’s List ads for travel swap locations.
“Maybe Seattle?” Lena asked. She peered into Teresa’s eyes, beckoning a response. She knew that the rainy weather would get her feeling frisky. The truth is, they had been rusty for months. Lena thought that a little spice would bring them back to the beginning.
“Maybe. I do love the rain.” Teresa responded. She smiled at Lena. Her rich, azure eyes made Lena’s heart patter quickly. “After all, that is where we’ve always talked about visiting.”
The two women looked for hours. Lena thought it was the perfect timing. She scrolled to the “M4W” section without hesitating. She glanced at Teresa who was already peering at her.
“What are you doing?” she asked. Teresa folded her arms tightly. Lena knew that it would be a rough struggle to convince her to go with it.
“I don’t know. There is something that I think that we should try.” Lena said. Her mouth pursed a bit in anticipation for a response. She always did that when she was nervous. Her lips quivered. Teresa glanced at her knees, then back up at Lena.
“Lena, do you really think this is the answer? I mean, just because I used to be with men, doesn’t mean I want to now. I love you!” she responded. “It was true,” Lena thought, but she thought, “perhaps she is longing for the feeling of a man”. Lena felt bad, but she knew this had to be the answer.
“It’s okay, Ter, it is natural to want that satisfaction” she said. Teresa pulled her arm away from where it had rested at Lena’s leg. “Can we think about it? Let’s look a bit and see.”
“Really…I’m not sure. It could ruin everything.” She said. Lena noticed a small grin behind her mouth forming and she knew that she could convince her. It would be sexy. It would be exciting and most of all, Teresa would be happy, again.
“It won’t hurt to just look.” Lena stated. Teresa nodded her head in approval. They searched the listings for the perfect man. The one that would appease Teresa’s needs and get their relationship back on track. “Ooh, look at this one. Single male, white, light eyes. Looking for one night with a beautiful woman. You host…no girlfriend experience required….” Lena read aloud. She looked at Teresa, raising her eyebrows humorously.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if I am into this. Isn’t it cheating?” Teresa said. She looked nervous.
“No, it isn’t. I’m asking you to do it. I’ll be here the whole time, in the other room…come on, you’ll better, afterwards…” she said. It was exciting to think of Teresa in bed with a man. She wanted her to say yes.
“What’s his email address?” Teresa asked.