Cut of Fever

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June 15, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Sara Henning


I have seen women in their forties talk of surrogates, turkey basters, one night trysts in bars. The dialogues are whispers that live in the walls, come out like ghosts.

This morning I offer my lover eggs made with half and half, toast smeared with apple butter. He kisses me with his mouth open, I can feel how wet his tongue is. He is a good man, a good father. I hate him for all of this.

This next weekend he will have the girl. When we took her on a three day credit card beach vacation in June, we pretended to be mermaids turning our bodies into the tide. I let her strip to her underwear and enter the water. Some mornings all I can taste is her hair.

You can tell on a baby’s face if the sex between parents was good or bad. My parents made my body under the cut of their fever, and I was a foal wet and bucking against the weight of afterbirth, who in the beauty and terror of being alive, begins to run. The girl is thick, unhurried, indifferent to her father’s kisses. Her body erodes with the end of his marriage.  Nonetheless, I resent the lovemaking of her parents visible in her face, the pillow-strewn bits of their coupling.

It is more loving to let her know she is not mine. One morning she will feel the same urge in her body and will understand. Sometimes this is the most precise form of life, kissing deeply, then turning away; learning how to let go but not completely, leaving the boundary of absence permeable with missing. Or sometimes it is kinder to take your wanting like a lock of hair between your fingers, and with a firm pressure, cut it off.

Sara Henning is a native of Georgia. She is pursuing doctoral studies in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Verse, Fence, American Letters and Commentary, and The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review

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