“Mapping Desire” by Samantha Leon

Samantha Leon


I put this dress on for you, 
zipped it tight around my hips 
and snug against my waist, 

sure to make the space 
between my ribs and breasts 
look small. 

I know—the colors aren’t bright, 
they wouldn’t catch anyone’s eye 
but see how interesting the pattern? 

Mottled black, brown, green
and yellow like a bruised pear. 
Expressing one way on the body 

and another on the sheer ruffled sleeves. 
The wind catches the ruffles 
and sends them dancing across 

my shoulders. Your new view 
from your new balcony ensures it. 
Your new balcony sends us up 

so high there truly is no one around. 
And what do we do with such a gift?  
You say your life this time around  

is purely for pleasure so we make love 
twice and cook every meal half-clothed.
Take a bite. Dress sunk to the bottom 

of the hamper now. Brioche bread
instead of multigrain, throw my diet out 
the 30th floor window and watch it drown.

Flour, eggs, butter, milk, water, cream. 
The sweet slices morph into a sandwich, 
avocado toast and French toast.  

After breakfast, we fall asleep in the sun. 
My new view: eyes open and only sky 
to see. Yours: my hair pulled back 

and my bare shoulder revealed 
holding a set of bruises, mouth-shaped. 

We want to eat what we love, 
and sometimes it’s obvious: sugary bread, 
fried chicken, cheesy noodles, milk chocolate.

And sometimes the urge to squeeze and sink 
our teeth doesn’t follow a linear target: 
fuzzy pet, plump baby, lover’s shoulder.  

Science calls it cute aggression, 
freaks call it odaxelagnia,
Kama Sutra calls it love making,

we call it Sunday morning together. 
We want to eat what we love 
and this is how I know you love me:

my skin mottled black, brown, green
and yellow like a bruised pear. 
Scientists propose this dash of aggression

is meant to offset the onslaught of positivity 
triggered in the primal brain. 
We want to eat what we love 

and freaks call it vampire play, 
or sadism, or masochism,
or sadomasochism depending 

on who likes to bite and who 
likes to be bitten. 
We want to eat what we love 

and The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana
names eight kinds of love bites: 
the hidden bite, the swollen bite,

the point, the line of points,
the coral and the jewel,
the line of jewels, the broken cloud, 

and the biting of the boar.
It instructs men on how to bite 
or not bite women from certain 

parts of the land, as if desire 
could be mapped.  
We want to eat what we love 

but you don’t need to bite to eat. 
Biting is of its own ceremony, 
gowned in lime, indigo and juniper green. 

Eight ways to embrace and mark 
your lover. No nourishment, just documentation. 
Infinite ways to say Someone was here. 

from Rattle #72, Summer 2021


Samantha Leon: “As a writer who crosses genres, formats, and industries, poetry is my North Star. It’s where I go to play, dream, figure-out, mourn, and most importantly, allow myself to be seduced by the details of life.” (web)

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