My sweating palms clutch her tennis sweater. Oversized white cable knit, blue and red stripes at the collar and each side of the ends of the sleeves, alligator logo, Lacoste. 1987. I saved the sweater from my summer—été—in the French countryside.
I can still smell the sweet lavender summer nights woven in the threads of her tennis sweater. Smudges of dusty maroon stain the end of the right sleeve, exposing her first love affair: tennis on clay.
I can still see her, alarming features I’d never seen in a person before or after; features so noticeable and addicting as the pungent piles of ripe peaches pandering in outdoor market stands for consumption: a gap playfully placed at the center of her front teeth, thick brown hair any girl would die for with fringy bangs that danced on top of old soul orbs, dark olive dewy skin made up of the entirety of the sun.
As I walked down the dusty road scuffing my hand-me-down tennis sneakers, she lounged past by bicycle. Out of nowhere, really. It was a peach cruiser.
White ruffled lace socks hugged lean, dark calves. A white pleated mini skirt dared to ride higher. Dark hair tied back in a white ribbon bounced against a brown Prince Woodie tennis racket case strapped to her back—the same racket on my back. And the oversized white cable knit sweater. A tennis icon. She turned her head back to look at me. Oversized rose-tinted aviator sunglasses hid her eyes and cheeks. Then, gone. Past the green horizon.
Was she going where I was going?
A fire romps within the dwellings of a kept creature, I, a lost girl influenced by the masses, a timeless roaring rage to keep purity alive all in the name of doing what is right. Life seems long when the years trickle into a puddle, merging with otherness into sameness. It’s the acceptance of hiding which makes life normal. Sameness, hiding, long, acceptance.
I felt, I thought, I ceased. Time decayed after her.
The word lust is too sturdy and clear; whatever it was, it felt fragile and hazy in my bones and mind, as if for the past month I wandered lost in a foreign nightclub.
Emerson said in Nature, “A man is a God in ruins.”
I am a broken statue— Donatello’s muse project gone wrong— mind chipped and irreparable.
But I come back to her, if even just in memory, and then I am whole.
I awaited during the lazy morning for this isolation. While all the others padded the stone courtyard musing upon their fresh pressed orange juice and tales of the crinkly-faced sun villagers who adore old lawless Virgil, I paced in a total wreck of a mood to get out.
The asters and carnations blooming near the eating table angered me for their sweet beauty that lived just for the sake of living and nothing else. The sun, always the sun out and about, irritated me, as the pits of my white shirt were already soaked through. Trickling water from the gold fiori water spout pulled at my chest as the water made its way to an idle, content state in the lilypad pond. My breathing became aware of me. I couldn’t swallow the grapefruit topped with sugar. The orange juice tasted dull.
Mother what is it?
My tongue pressed the backs of the front teeth in detest of… mater, mētēr, madre, mother. They contemplated me as if I were crazy or sick. Well, perhaps I am both.