Maya Seligman
September 6, 1995
English 3: The Bodies That Surround Us
Prof. Lisa Cohen
Swarthmore College


The air in the garden felt crisp as I kneeled in the dirt to pick fragrant basil leaves. But not here, in the kitchen. The air now smells and tastes stale, and I'm surrounded by old heat that has been hovering in the same place for too long. My hair is heavy. It envelops my neck like an insulating animal, trapping my body heat unrelentingly. All my exposed pores are open, gasping for any traces of freshness, but there is no air circulation in this room. The only movement is on my back: streams of sweat trickle down my spine like tiny scurrying spiders. My jeans stick to my thighs, smothering and tight. My face shines with oily sweat. I desperately want to pull off all my suffocating clothes and jump into a river of melted snow.

When you slide your warm tongue into my ear, all I can think about is pesto. I imagine how the first bite of oily basil pulp draws all of my attention to my taste buds as they soak in the fierce flavors of raw garlic and pine nuts, while the rest of my body fades out of focus and is forgotten.

When Mom is on a diet, she takes only two bites of each meal, claiming that only the first and last bites really count for anything. She says she's numb to the rest of the food anyway, so why eat it? But I know better. I get pleasure from every forkful and need each orgasmic bite in order to be satisfied. The warm pesto paste slips down my throat and fills my stomach, extending my focus to the rest of my body with tingling guilt.

But when your sharp teeth bite into my earlobe with teasing pain, you yank me away from my fantasy. All of a sudden I can feel your hot chest and stomach pressed to my back, while your coarse hand pulls me even tighter against you. When we spoon, my body melts into your body-- I can't discern where mine stops and yours begins. Our bare sweaty bodies stick together with force, heat, anger, moisture, lust.

When you leave, you rob from the bed the heat that our bodies formed together. Cold air snakes under the sheet, drying my sweat. But humidity still clings between my legs and is now dirty and sinful without the accompanying passion. Loneliness slowly settles down over me, sinking into my skin with contaminated dryness. Suddenly, I want your wet tongue back in my ear.

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