My want shies from its old haunts, takes the long way around kink, predicts the morning toll: guilt, ache, risk of infection. Now once a week with the steadfast partner works nicely and ends well. It’s like a healthy hike. Or a productive meeting between company managers. Or Sunday school, and then afterward, I am like a child leaving the must and resonance of hymnals, stale coffee, and pews, staggering into the sunshine, where cars rev and rush down Sixth Street and, across the church lot, a crumpled Wendy’s bag rides the wind, hell for leather. Then home, where Mom’s sauce bubbles and steams on the stovetop. Home, for a little bowl of that sauce! Yes, that quality of satisfaction. Now naughtiness is less sleeping with and more sleeping in, and boldness is saying no-thanks to teaching that class because adjuncting pays peanuts, and indulgence is a big cookie and maybe one more. Now I crave time and luxuriate in silence and long for peace. I say things like, just think, in 16 years, barring a medical emergency, we will have enough money saved to retire. That delight in my voice? It’s real. I am 49 years old. My lower back hurts. I get cramps in my legs. Tonight, I will ask for a massage, no euphemism intended. Then I will rub my partner’s shoulders and arms, still broad, still strong, and yet, afterward, I will pull the blankets up to my chin. My partner and I will hold each other and say, I love you, sweet dreams. We will mean it. After I fall asleep, desire will spring in my dream with its former ferocity, in its former fashion. I will be young again. Lilac bushes will break through the bedroom floor and grow thrivingly. Blue butterflies will flit from cluster to cluster, fly over the quilt, bob past the dresser. I will roll off my lover, climb out of bed, and follow the butterflies’ wobbling progress down to the kitchen, my kitchen but not my kitchen. There, my mother’s sauce will simmer. I will lean over the big pot and wonder, Where’s Mom? The steam will mist my face. The sauce will waft deliciousness to every corner of my dream. It will bubble and burble for hours. It will only get better with time.
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