We want him to. Make love. Kiss us. Touch us. All of us. He is our leader and we’ve chosen him; he is our leader and he’s chosen us. Our love overwhelms and embarrasses us but we water it, grow it, nurture it, and speak to it—this garden. We smoke hand-rolled cigarettes in a circle of succulents and rub sticky sagebrush and apricot mallow under our arms. We are safe and he does not hurt us. He is gentle and we can leave whenever we want. He tells us this. You can leave whenever you want, his breath bright with cumin and tea. His shirt and pants and beard and skin and hands scented with one of us, some of us, all of us. He calls us his little birds, his little doves. We do not call him God. He tells us this. Don’t call me God. I am not God. I am a man, his breath sugar-heavy with blood-red wine and honey. He calls us his little animals, his little doves. We do not call him Daddy. He tells us this. Don’t call me Daddy. I am not your Daddy. I am your lover, his breath blooming with cannabis and sandalwood. His shirt and pants and beard and skin and hands scented with myrrh and vetiver and bergamot and basil and lemon and patchouli. A soupçon of lust-musk. Little thunders of orange, bitter and sweet. We are grown women and we want him, need him. We are birds that can fly away and come back home; we are birds with a nest to tend. We are birds with babies to feed. His mouth to our mouth to their mouth. We are birds that can escape all this but we don’t want to. We want to be in the kitchen cooking for him, pregnant with seeds of him, watering them, growing them, nurturing them, speaking to them—our gardens. We wear sackcloth and pillowcase dresses and make dough with our rosemary hands. We put on our glowing nightslips and nightslip the bread into the oven, our fingers blued with berries. We close the kitchen windows to the Santa Anas—those devil winds—and we make sun tea on the back porch, waiting patiently for it, braiding each other’s hair smoked with cedar and cinnamon. The hell-orange fires dragon-rage to the north. He lifts our dresses, his hands pinked with berries. He squeezes our thighs, our full bottoms, his hands warmed with kettle water. He drinks milk from our breasts, licks our nipples and sucks, climbs inside of us and we open wide. Our drowsy eyelashes sweep him away and back again—across the white dew of morning, the navy mist of night. We press our mouths against his, slip our tongues into his heat, brush our cheeks against his soft, dark, vanilla beard, against the tender buffalo plaid he pulls on when evening cools. We beg for this, we ache for this, we want this. He gives generously, unselfishly, not unlike a god. We moan and sing in our nest until we are sirens silenced. We smell of him until we bathe in lavender rainwater, in holy hyssop and serious moonlight—rapturously captive. He tells us you can leave whenever you want. Do you want to stay? Do you want this? Do you want? Do you? Say yes.
“That was his thing, though, slamming doors. Chrissy often held her middle finger up at it once he left, just in case he came back into the room to apologize.”
Once, she turned to stone mid-stroke and suddenly sank to the bottom of the lake, where whitefish darted between her arms like children running an obstacle course.
“Before I left for Istanbul, my mother said taste the rose jam. She said, taste the rose jam, jam-e-jam...”