- Miriam's Thirst
I'm sick of manna, astronaut food—ice cream pebbles, dried mashed potatoes, baklava dots. I signal my blood, and the guard cringes. Unclean, I run past him and scramble up the sand dune, slide and grip cactus with toes, pull up, grasp top root with both hands—
I was there. Never told youbut I got my period there. Tori the psychic explained why I still feel it's the curse and remember leaves and rags catching the flow. And the desert dreams: even Tori doesn't know.
I have a crush on Ezrawho carries Maya's bundles. Twice I crawled to him, stared under stars looming large and close. One dark arm flung over his face. In the curve of elbow, flesh rose and blue, ripe as the heart [End Page 56]
of a prickly pear. I knew it would taste red.Moses, the bully, sends out scouts, then distorts reports with smoke and flame, but I saw my bloody rag left to dry on desert shrub: we've passed this way before. Ezra stirs, smiles.
I know: a woman's eyes burn. That's why Moses hides, Ezra too, but I enter their dreams through ears, eyes, mouth. The root juts from the dune, fills my face, falls with me
down, down to hard sand where Ezra wants me but marries Maya, Moses keeps us back back with blueflame finger, desert never ends—
not even when I wake, diamonds on my tongue.
Ruth Knafo Setton is the author of the novel The Road to Fez. Born in Morocco, she is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and PA Council on the Arts, among others. Her work appears in many journals and anthologies. The Writer-in-Residence for the Berman Center for Jewish Studies at Lehigh University, she has just completed her second novel, Darktown Blues, about a Moroccan-Jewish immigrant family who opens a restaurant, The Couscous Caboose, in 1963 New Jersey. The book includes recipes, all personally tested by Ruth. She can be reached at: www.ruthknafosetton.com.