They will not teach me

Jessica Jo Horowitz

My mother will not teach me desert magic
though she shows me all the others:
the gentle chants of grasslands, a susurration
of bodies entwined
sweat-damp with dew.
The gentle, tickling tongue of the river and
the tender salt-kiss of the sea.
But of the dry, electric roar of desert heat
and desert spark
she keeps her silence.

My brother does not speak of it.
Instead, I follow him out to the sands,
hidden in a cloud of dust and grit
kicked up by his motorbike, awash
in the smell of leather and sweat and storms.
I watch behind the fragrant honeysuckle
as the pretty village flowers
blushed dusty pink with shy laughter
spread their petals for him.
My hands are his hands
sticky and slick,
clutching at the vines, fibrous and strong,
buried deep into the trumpet blossoms,
fingers insistent;
me, dizzy with the honeysuckle scent.
I put my fingers to my mouth and lick off
the after-taste, sweet and demanding,
an earthy cry for more.

I shall learn desert magic on my own,
and go out onto the sands myself
the bone sky dark and restless
soft as a woman's secret,
as the velvet of her pleasure
and lay my blanket beneath a cacophony of stars.
I go when it is moon-dark, no watchful eye awake
to spy and tell my secrets.

Mark me, dark skin atop pale sand, my eyes
aglitter and
my body unlearned and unknown.
I call Her by the names I heard,
the secret, whispered names
cried out in hoarse harmony,
in rhapsody, in rapture,
the sounds small, timid on my untried tongue,
but She listens. She comes.
Strewn in the sand, bare skinned and trembling
myself an offering,
She teaches Her own magic, a spark, a fire
lit down deep in the centre,
in the folded core
of me
as the sky above us opens
and lets down the rain.

Jessica Horowitz is a Korean-American writer living in New England, studying circus, swords and gods. Previous works have appeared in ChiZine, Star*Line and Eye to the Telescope. She can be found on Twitter at @TransientJ.