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The secret to sin is to do it in secret. We learned secrecy young—two girls taught to swallow our hunger—so we meet up at nightfall once the last lights have gone out. We walk down the roads, cursing this town full of coal-miners and farmers and churches, cursing the way we’ll likely never leave. The air is petrichor-stained, and we’re led only by the humming streetlights and starlit sky. We find each other at our meeting place, the lake south of me, north of you, me scrambling over the wet rocks toward the grove where you’ve lain down the knit blanket. And as soon as we catch each other’s eyes, we’re each saying Here is my shirt, here is my hair, my hands, my mouth, take it, take me, right now. Your eyes glow like lightning bugs, jaw sharp as my pocket knife. As we strip, our breaths turn to fog, the cool drizzle falling onto your curls and half-shut eyelids. Your thighs shear mine—the seawater taste of skin, the scrape of teeth against lip, fingertips meandering down spines, tracing mandibles. Breaths a windstorm—some desire to rub ourselves together till we make some sort of fire. As your mouth latches onto skin hardly anyone has seen, rosy even in this low light, we gasp like people drowning, and I try to think of a word for the way I want you—wildly, maybe. Like a monsoon. But what’s at first erotic erodes: love collapsing like the hills that gave way after so much rain and mud last winter. And so much want is sinful—I know—so we’re wary of the fires and floods, lying together only in darkness, water spattering our faces, swallowing what we can of each other.

Originally published in Prairie Schooner

Despy Boutris’s writing has been published in Copper Nickel, Guernica, Ploughshares, Crazyhorse, Agni, American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.

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