The Orange Grove


There was no gate to the orange grove, just ancient mossy walls, held together by time.
      'Hold this,' she said, untying her sari and handing it to me.  'Mimi says the heathens consecrated the grove to their gods, long before the Buddha.'  Yellow like the sun, I draped the sari around my neck, battling not to look at what it had unveiled.
      She reached above then held the wall.  She placed her toes in a groove, stepped up, then reached again.
      My hands shadowed her pantied behind.
      'What-are-you-doing?' she said, her head tucked under her arm.
      'In case you fall,' said I.
      'You wish,' said she, and smiled, 'oh, how you wish.'
      It's true, I did.
      She moved with the grace of a ballerina and reached the top in eight moves.  'What are you waiting for?' she called down, 'soon it will be dark.'
      I grunted my way up, my belly heavy with tender seasoned lamb—cardamom and mustard seed and wild, thick-stemmed fennel.  From atop the wall I heard soft muffled laughter.
      'You have the wrong muscles for climbing,' she said.  'Your muscles are from the fitness studio—nice to look at, but no good for climbing.'  She dusted dirt from her hands then lowered herself into the orange grove.  I shook out the sari and released it into the sky.  It hovered for a heartbeat, then twisted and crumpled and fell into her reach in orange tree shade.  It was then, as the sky clapped with thunder, that the ancient wall rumbled below me, and as the ground approached, I clutched the void above.  
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