March 5, 2013 by The Citron Review
Slender hips like a woman, I envy his skin—
soft milkweed, polished, buttery caramel.
Trapped in the prepubescent image of a boy.
Only his hands age, from the work he does—
expertly, sensually, philosophically.
He drops his S’s when he speaks,
and smokes Marlboro Reds in a feminine manner.
I don’t correct—
to maintain his innocence.
Before Rattan, Dakilo, and Idianale, there was Chris, Michael, and David. My preference of sex was exclusive to white Irish, brooding boys with blue eyes and nice lips. I had known a Danny Ho once—Korean, smoked large amounts of pot, a perfect test taker. His mother had a charge card at Macy’s, dressing him like an accountant or tax auditor—the type you wouldn’t expect to see with a guitar pick always, readily at hand in their pockets.
We would skip school and listen to Joplin in his economy-class sedan, get high and talk about things that mattered to us, and then go to the diner down the street where we chain smoked and drank terrible black coffee, sticking to topics of existentialism and our distaste for mainstream music.
I was never attracted to Danny Ho, though I remember stripping down to my panties in front of him one night, to skinny dip behind the prep school where he was sent for higher-level math and sciences. He was smarter than us all, but would quickly get sloppy off the cases of Labatt’s Blue our friends would sneak onto campus for him. And he may have looked me up and down in my lucky Calvin Klein bikini bottoms, while trying to balance my toes on the edge of the boat dock, or fantasized about me later in his dormitory room, as some audacious la Manche nymphet. There was something pure and intact about Danny, and I doubted he masturbated.
He left for Cornell after that summer, to learn how to build bridges, and we eventually lost touch.
I think about this, as I watch you flirt with the Cambodian waitress near the bar. There are many girls around here that look like her; they could possibly be sisters and cousins, for all we know. Genocide brought them to this mill city—they’re the prettiest refugees I’ve ever seen—and I wonder if it’s their timid beauty that attracts you too. They are different to you than the abrasive, Worcester girls who draw out their A’s and smell of dirty tanning salons. These girls appear chaste.
You are supposed to be paying the bill, and you think I am still in the bathroom.
I watch you finger an earring she’s wearing, and she’s giggles with shy submissive enthusiasm. You clearly know her, though you say you haven’t stepped foot in this restaurant before.
I ask you about it in the car, after we leave.
“She had silver bird wings hanging from her ears. I‘d never seen anything like them,” you say.
Just like you had never seen a heart-shaped tattoo inside of a mouth. That Vietnamese girl with a pierced nose had opened her pert lips wide and lifted up her salivating tongue to show you, and you had made a comment about oral chakras. It didn’t impress me, but she seemed intrigued by your interest in Buddhism. And I just wanted to finish my maki roll in peace.
Then there was that bitch from Beijing, who lived with you as a roommate, while doing her internship at some medical lab in Cambridge. The one who complained about how loud we fucked, as she watched videos in the downstairs below us, of animals mating in large groups. Research, she’d said.
“She probably wants to join us,” I tell you. “Or it’s jealousy.”
“I think we should be quieter. She’s not used to being exposed to such things.”
“I see how she looks at you,” I say, then roll over to sleep off my hate for Le Meng.
You had recently put a bicycle together for her, and while doing so noticed she didn’t shave her legs.
“She’s like a little bear,” you told me. I couldn’t tell if this meant you were now turned off by Chinese girls, but I still noticed how she looked at you.
“You’re making it uncomfortable for her to stay,” you accused me.
“Good,” I say. “Then she should go back to where she came from.”
Copper coins and cannibal eyes,
the holy cross at his russet neckline.
I push his head down,
with fists clenching fine dark hair.
He calls it his “off-the-boat” hair,
and I lick his bare chest—
an act reserved solely for my island boy.
No spitting fur from my tongue.
and fermented rice.
And everything about him is hard—
sugar cane hard.
Bakit ang mahal magmahal?
—Why does it cost so much to love?
A guttural sound escapes his perfectly square maw,
ejaculating into his hand
so I can stay clean.
At his center: a beautiful tantric dream.
“How about we get ‘take-out tonight’?” you ask.
Is this our compromise—“Thai or sushi?”
“I’m not in the mood,” I say. “How about we try something familiar, instead?”
Sarah E. Caouette holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. A New England-based writer of fiction/non-fiction, personal essay, and poetry, she is currently working on a novel, and a collection of short stories focused on the concept of a moral vacuum. You can find her voice and photography portfolio on her blog: www.livinginframes.blogspot.com.