Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jealousy (Banyualit, Bali, 1990)

I was messy and he was beautiful. It wasn't junior high but it felt like it, in that despite my ugliness, the ugly both inside and out, I was beautiful too. But the shine on my face felt like sweat in the coconut humidity, and I looked down and followed and followed on the mud path between the watered paddies shimmering with the reflected blur of a thousand single green shoots.

Then we were in a clearing, and the bamboo cricket cages came out of pockets, the ends opened and the crickets would fight each other, egged on by green shoots poked through the slats, the brilliance of equatorial green increasing their fighting instinct. I was hot and my stomach churned acid and I had sores on the tops of my feet, but I felt none of it. The crickets fought in between the men, their hairy legs and jaws the first slings and arrows of men facing each other, with feet spread and sideways and their hocks next to the ground, rising just above the earth.

His wiry forearm was a conduit between the stuck cricket scrabbling its legs to get out of the bamboo tube, to devour what faced it, and a bicep so tightly and loosely leading up to his tilted shoulder made soft by all that black wavy hair, each strand retaining a week's worth of oil and smoke, which would give my hands the scent of touched fire.

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