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Karen Gonzalez-Videla

What I Think About When I Hear the Word Love

Waking up in Buenos Aires, the sound of Ricardo Arjona bouncing on the chipped paint of the living room walls. Mom’s out-of-tune high-pitch voice as she tries to sing the chorus with him. Dad at the kitchen with a frying pan in hand, tossing panqueques into the air. My then two-years-old sister drumming the floor with a pair of flowered heels she stole from Mom’s closet. The ruins of the Ancient Egypt themed party my older sister and I had with the Barbie dolls last night.

The way the sun scorches my skin in the afternoon shine of the beach. Mom’s “I told you so”s as she digs into her silly emergency kit and pulls out an extra-large Aloe Vera bottle. The circular motion of her hands when they rub the icy gel into the burns of my back. How fast the pain eases. How quickly I’m back in the water, jumping over waves and bragging about my abnormally grand strength as I carry my sister on my back.

The thorns of cacti at the Botanical Gardens, so thin that I crave to touch them. The bench in front of the succulent display, where I sit for an hour with a poetry anthology in between my thighs. The sound of my voice as I read Robert Frost aloud. The gust of wind that shakes the tree leaves above me and drops a shower of pollen on my head. The way my fingers get tangled in the interwoven hair strands as I try to remove the yellow powder that has blended with them. The way I fail and the way I laugh about it.

What I Don’t Think About When I Hear the Word Love

Sex. The breeze from the fan after I take off my sweater. Shy smiles under the candlelight. Whispers in my ear. Trembles. Tickles. Tangled limbs and the scent of sweat on them. Stained bedsheets. The tender caress of a finger. An arm wrapped around my shoulders.

A man’s tongue in my mouth. The sweet taste of his breath. The way his spit joins mine like two clashing currents of water. How rough his hands feel on my body. How they make me feel smooth. How nice it feels to touch him. How I never want to stop touching him.

A woman’s lips. How she licks them before she aims for mine. How gentle they feel. Her hands on my waist, my hands on her neck. Her overgrown bangs and the way they brush her eyelashes. The scent of lavender perfume when I breathe her in.

How much I need this. How much I should need this.

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