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Your lips were like that, once. They held all the temptation of sugar and swirl, fragrant, spinning out white pinwheels, words, and my eyes were closed then, so soft your lips were against my neck, so soft and melting like my heart in the sweetness. In the dark. I miss it.
You, moving at the back of my neck. Sudden warmth.
My grandmother’s dresser, her valises, passports. Fleurs De Rocaille, Chanel No. 5. My mother, her surround of Shalimar like a veil. What does it mean to be a woman?
He says to me, “You are mysteries, and this is the allure.”
“I need to hear more,” I tell him. But I never say it aloud, because I can’t.
I want to say something to you that starts and ends in a fragranced way. Like sugar on the tongue. Something that is white as this sugared flower I press to my lips, press along the surface of my skin, thinking about the way it is with you. All I have to do is listen. Your voice. I’ve never heard one like it. I hear something inside it that reminds me of a place.
These were Billie Holiday’s flowers. Mine too, sometimes. I know things about blue moons, like she did. Things about love where the music from that fragrance slides like the moon across the sky. Lustered pearl.
In his arms. The slide of him, his skin. Melting moonlight. Eyes closed. Come.
He says, “You always smell so wonderful.”
This is how you can find me in the dark. Because he never looks. Vesper, feminine, tapered flame, the white of votives at the altar, a scented wind passing across the sea. A tiny charm that dangled from a bracelet and got lost under starlight. A breeze tripping through a white linen chemise that flows like water, handkerchief linen, translucent, transparent. But he never sees. To be seen is to be alive. To be known is to become real. Touch me.
Billie’s flowers. She wore them in her hair bravely, as men came and went.
It’s always like that, isn’t it?
Some women inherit jazz. It runs in them like honey, slow and nebulous. A little like love. You whisper it.
Your nose finds the flower.
He understands the song I sing. It inhabits a different universe. Fleurs De Rocaille, Shalimar, the legacy I’ve been handed, the sex between my thighs. His tongue circles me, making pinwheels. Sugar spins. Gardenia. White, the tropicality of paradise. Our bed, this universe.