Dante's Inferno, Plate XVIII
Together, they are united by secret infidelities. These infidelities are like haloes of stars seen far away, imagined, real as improbable dreams that succumb to amnesia, forgetfulness, and regrets.
Whenever her lips touch his skin, it isn't mere skin she feels but the density of sensuality, layered, vulnerable to assumptions and proclivities of things tropical, gratifying subversions, gardens where the exotic elevates the imagination of libido, naked chests, arms, eyes. To him, the way she makes coffee for him each morning hides decisions he isn't her evolution or someone that enriches her to grow and be, over the years; but rather: he is re-incarnation of myth in her life, of man as savage, savage as permanence and noble transgression, slave to religions for himself, her father in her that needs another male embodiment, in the face and figure of husband.
In old age, after raising three children, all grown and successful in their expanding versions of failures, ambitions, and illusions, the couple likes to garden together most afternoons, usually warms and wrinkles up for evening, growing flowers that color years of affairs, or quick, marital detours with people whose names rhyme with anonymous, cruel, ambitious, repressed, political, religious, even theoretical, names that decline to re-assume presence allocated in margins of personal history, apologies, or intrusive recollections availed in autobiography that aspires lyricism, respires poetry.
One day, while tilling soil around some roses in her backyard - which partly resides in the backyards of her memory - one of her fingers is bruised by a rose-thorn. The thorn feels big in its sharpness but somehow hides itself in physical size like a mosquito's almost-invisible physicality, ready for acts of blood-letting, sacrifice, and other rituals that elevate insect violence to vampiric, nocturnal nobility. He sees her bleeding, on that finger, in that digit, beyond there, then takes her hand slowly, to suck the blood, to suck her out of that bleeding finger, as he imagines someone and a rose given to him at night, under a failed moon, years ago, in a city of alleys, rusty street-corners, and resplendent subversions in graffiti; he sucks her out of her blood, as though god trying to cleanse itself of ceremonious, arabesque illusions. She feels him, the thorn in his tongue, his tongue as her thorn, the absence of his tongue, its paternal, salacious reminders. She senses tones of revisions, through that tongue, like notes in music score suddenly diverging from its tracks, derailing, deferring tonality into strange frisson of hush, aspiring meditation. To her, revisions propose absolutions in probabilities, inclinations, castrations, forms of nourishments in memory, or formulations of moving on, even how questionable those proposals can be. And so, she feels light in the silence, shades in monsoon afternoons, under big, splintered leaves, shadows of trees, palms overlooking a cove, and the sounds of animals, smells of musk, men, force, chests, love, cryptic restorations in penetrations.
Her eyes look into the circles in his eyes sucking her. She is digging through splintered lines and circles in his sight, cutting those lines, bleeding them, widening them, offering them horizons, divergent rows of flowers with vanishing petals, dropping out of sight, leaving him behind discretely, becoming whole and complete as the vague, grayness in her eyes.
Michael Caylo-Baradi's articles have appeared in numerous publications including The Los Angeles Daily News.
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