Aly barely fit the bed,
which occupied its own snug little cubbyhole
off the wall of the largest room in Dar Tasfaout,
and twice, in his passion, he sat up abruptly
and cracked his head on the low-slung ceiling.
Lalla Khaddouja had to laugh,
lying there naked beneath him,
because he was so earnest,
so eager in his application.
He was tender too, and patient with her
It’d been a long time,
and she’d almost forgotten
what a man could make her feel like,
a man other than Harun,
a stranger with a new body,
new hands and tongue and groin.
Harun smelled of his mother,
of the sad damp house he’d grown up in,
carpet slippers and dog hair,
the old cat and the mold under the kitchen sink,
and the spice of the aftershave
he tried to cover it all up with.
Aly’s Eau de Toitlette was different, fresher somehow.
He was there all around her,
more powerful than Harun by far;
she could make no movement not prompted by his will.
At first she was stiff, gasping happily, grimly trying to resist him,
although the battle went on wholly inside her.
Then she realized her helplessness and accepted it.
Straightaway she was conscious only of his lips
and breath coming from between them,
sweet and fresh as a spring morning in childhood.
There was an animal-like quality
in the firmness with which he held her,
affectionate, sensuous, wholly irrational–
gentle but of a determination
that only death could gainsay.