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Dorlai had never felt any interestAuthor's Notes
for the stories the other girls told
about falling in love with men.
She took a lover once a year,
out of duty, but did not enjoy it.
Her age-mates did not understand this,
but then, they had never been close.
"Perhaps you should try something else,"
said Mikaar, pushing her glossy black
away from her wide round face.
She dipped fish oil from a large urn
and poured it into a lamp.
"I enjoy both men and women,
but some women only enjoy other women."
"I tried that too," she said.
"It wasn't any more fun,
and it was less dutiful."
She passed Mikaar the next lamp.
The sound of the oil pouring
was thicker and richer than water.
"Do you dislike company,
or just sharing your body?"
"I like company," Dorlai said,
turning an empty lamp in her hands.
"but everyone expects to get
my body in exchange for their bead."
Mikaar shrugged. "Then they're silly,"
she said. "I've played with a lot of bodies.
You're the only person I know
who doesn't drop a lamp
or spill oil on me or nag me to hurry up.
You're good company, Dorlai.
I don't need to put my face in your seashell
to enjoy spending time with you."
Dorlai giggled at that,
then handed Mikaar the last lamp.
"That's sweet of you," she said.
Mikaar touched a long splinter
to the hot coals of the hearth
and lit the lamps with it.
"Sometimes all it takes
is a light in the darkness
to reveal a new choice," she said.
Dorlai hung the lamps in their places
and admired the warm golden glow.
"Yes," she said, "I see."
"So would you like to keep me company
for a month?" Mikaar asked.
She held out a bead of yellow ashaakarg
that caught the light like a captive flame.
"I would like that very much,"
Dorlai said as she
untied the knot in her necklace.
This poem came out of the August 2012 Muse Fusion. It was inspired by a prompt from Ellen Million. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.