Along the river of memory, there lies a village of song where the eyes of women meet in harmonized experience. Shared lives of duty, men, and children. But no matter who looks and pries within those encrypted hearts, they turn away or lash out in fear. Men who fall in love with the hushed tones of the wind cascading down fields of dead grass and the low pitched call of hawks competing with him for dinner. They tread through a world that they barely understand every night. Forever a visitor in a strange land. Seemingly delicate, thanks to youth, and nimble hands kneading primitive dough, she finds herself slipping along the currents of her own thoughts. In her innocence, unaware of leering gazes from the villagers following her every movement. What was once graceful fulfillment of her feminine duty becomes a lewd act. Traveling still, she finds herself wandering through back alleys entrenched with the permanent scent of the living. Beneath layers of filth, she senses the threat of scavengers and predators. There are stories left untold in the rustle of dirt encrusted sleeves and torn heavy duty khakis that have not seen the inside of an office in years adorned with more piss stains than a used cloth diaper. Uncertain steps transition into a slight sway of the hips as she readies the thin large round iron baking pan for eventual baking. But that is also a lie, she knows, as she lifts her gaze from the floor of the bus to catch a glimpse of the scene unfolding outside the window across from her.
The old man ambles down the block with the odd grace of those who wear another decade around their shoulders. It’s not just the old straw hat or the well-tailored dress jacket or the loosely fit slacks that gives it away. It’s the slight slump of the shoulders one gets when letting the mind wander too far into the past. Like a blanket the body tries to envelope itself with to block out the present that they resent so much. The ugliness of the world around them. They watch their descendants resort to drugs, alcohol, and an endless sea of faceless strangers on street corners and in abandoned buildings, inevitably becoming an active part of what they are trying so hard to forget. The young ones, they didn’t choose this existence but it chose them and it sinks its claws into their hearts with the tenacity of a rabid animal. We want to protect our children from the world, but sometimes what we want most is to protect them from ourselves.
The bus passes a woman sitting in her car checking for traffic before a right turn and she examines her face. How the artificial light illuminates her cheekbones and slides down each meeting at her lips. It dawns on her that this woman must belong to someone like most women here tend to. She imagines the woman’s face titled back against the car seat in pleasure for brief moment. Does her lover caress her neck with worship in his eyes and every feeling he holds within hanging on his breath as he runs his mouth over her ear? Does she reward him with a smile that is for his eyes only and so it will remain even if they do not? The passenger on the bus wonders and sighs to herself in resignation. The other woman’s lover does not do these things, she decides. Their love life is probably as boring and as passionless as the best porn flick that is available on tape. Fingering, blowjob, penetration, dirty talk, few position changes, and end. How she longs for passion as the bus rolls on past the woman in her car.
How she longs for life.