Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Recidivist

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Recidivist

Article excerpt

The fat white candles, I think they must be religious candles, the ceremonial candles splatter light on the wall, and what sits in the three feet between us is desire. Desire is a pile of kindling and I have a handful of matches, a mouthful. Instead of leaning across that space to kiss the corner of his mouth, I could get up and walk through the door and shut it. I could walk to the lighted hallway to my own bed, which, these nights, is full of the others who turn their faces to the wall, as if I wouldn't know them, the set of their shoulders, their smells: The hitchhiker; the junkie from Montreal; the Israeli boy in Athens; the gardener who carried the spermy scent of yew trees; my Marine, dead at Khe Sanh with my teeth marks still in his shoulder; white Alma, who sat on the edge of the bathtub, her blond hair falling outside her knees, her hands clenched between them, crooning "touch her, touch her," and Meg backed up against the bathroom door, the whole world opening in her mouth, red and wet and perfect as it came down on mine and blue velvet sliding on nylon and the awful pounding on the door, a husband, some husband, howling -- the three of us scrambling up, Meg picking the rug lint from my velvet, thumb and index meeting as they would meet on a nipple, shrewd and soft and unwilling to let go, and Alma opening the door, the flush fading from her face, from all of us, and longing unfinished to this day. …

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