The Garden of Earthly Desires | Tufts Observer
Poetry & Prose

The Garden of Earthly Desires

—After Hieronymus Bosch

I.

I came to this party early, and I would like to leave it. I’m corralled in the kitchen, where the drinks line the table like small, glassy shopfronts. My hip against the marble edge, a needle in my palm, my eyes pearling. My midriff—icy. Tonight my neck wears a rhinestone dress, heavy jewels that reflect in the murkiness of the fridge handle. I’ve swallowed six swords, and I feel like a fist fight. The rat in the corner scurries over the ace of spades. I’m waiting to get sick—to call the Lyft, to lose my coat, to lay down with my lipstick on. Rinse, rinse, rinse. Kneeled, or keeled over—I’m rapacious to repent, ravenous to repeat. 

II.

Why did she invite me here if she was going to touch his arm like that? It’s a nice garden, by all means, but just not like the jagged, jade jungles back home. Every tree here is a downturned face. I’m sitting naked, and he’s wearing a dress of pink folds. Maybe I will pet the dog. Or the bird or stingray or chameleon. She hasn’t touched me since last night, but it’s not a thought I am allowed to have. (Do you need some water? My hands are leaves; you can drink from them.) In the dark, her limbs told me that love is the inevitable bad of being human. And now, our moods don’t mesh. My mouth fills with blood. She brought me to this party early, and I would like to leave it.

III.

Watching you eat apples is like having sex. Molars on white flesh, jaw working up and down, syrup slipping past the breaking point of lip. No, we are not making eye contact. I am watching the apple, you are watching the apple, and the apple is being ate. A panting sound, a crunch, a slurp. Juice. We came to this party early, and we should leave it. Your hands are so big in mine. How many apples can you hold? Suddenly I’m a fruit basket, and we are at the marketplace, bright and early and smiling. Melons set to pop, rinds to unravel, and cherries to pick. Let’s run before we rot—eyes upturned and asking, a head nodding and nodding.

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