Kara Dorris


"It doesnít matter to me," she said. Automatically, he knew it did. The conundrum: Choosing the right position for maximum comfort when the body wants to be a halo.

"Really. It doesnít matter." His paced circles around his wrists.

"Really. Itís just a bowl." Just a bowl, just a rim to fill & fulfill & drain & repeat again as necessary. There were so many other types of containers to fulfill.

"The pretzel bowl is an important part of movie night," he replied. "I donít feel comfortable leaving it next to the naked licorice." The twisted curves were female bodies. Ties around his wrists.

"So put the licorice back into its wrapper until weíre ready to eat it." He thought she understood the importance of disguise, of mystery, of holding back, of discovery as she pulled the blanket higher up on her chest.

"But movie night is about excess being in reach, without boundaries. We have no use for wrapped things." Once opened, released, & laid out bare he had no intention of closing things off again. It was the song "Kissing You" in the background that highlighted her true meaning when she asked, "licorice?" He was holding on.

"So, letís prop our feet in between the sweet & salty, weíll be the barrier." Flesh against flesh was always best. He was on one end of the sofa. She was on the other. She had painted her nails red, still glistened fresh. The light from the tv flickered colors, but the lamp fussed a whiter softer watt of something. Like viewing each other through a fish tank, the movement of trying to find each other through distortion & that fish that repeats to die upside down & a little sideways. The salt that clings to the skin when the dead are fished out.

"Yeah, well, then everything would smell like sweaty feet. Barrier or no. People still go to China. No, we need at least two different taste buds activated." Sweet & salty belong to different families, like Romeo & Juliet, together, holding hands, they never end well. But they end together, like margaritas.

"What about the remote? It can go anywhere, itís inherent in the name." She dreamed remote was her middle name, her last in control. Not to be in the movie but of it. She liked knowing how it ended, knowing when to watch & when to turn away.

"No, god no, what if we canít control it? What if the tv gets out of line with the channel & wants to surf on its own?" To break the stream of the feed was to break the body of everything glass. But she thought breaking could be fun.

"Well, letís put the bowl between us on the couch, then it would be surrounded by the blanket."

"But the blanket is covered with green alligators, what if they get hungry? What if scent acts as a voodoo conduit bringing the dead jaws alive?"

"Weíll turn it upside down. Then it is just a blue, dry river. Trust me, just in case, Iíll find a stack of sewing pins for weapons." The smallest weapons were the deadliest, mind over matter over matter still. Voodoo deaths were small deaths but deaths just the same. It was why voodoo really worked, why she did indeed fear those alligators, as well as ice cream & other dairy products.

"But what if the bowl tips over? & taste is washed away?"

"Weíll huddle together to hold the bowl in place. Like bondage & suffocation, there is no room to exhale a falling over."

"What if our hair falls into the bowl & flesh-dust & we end up consuming ourselves?" He didnít think heíd taste well, never could manage to lick leftover barbeque sauce or ketchup from his lips, from his fingertips, always insisted on using his napkin, his shirt, anything other than tongue & skin. It was as if that much intimate knowledge of the self could be deadly. The body as understood. Not as to be explored. But it didnít need to be his tongue, his senses. He knew that some liked pickles & not mayo & taste buds were just like that.

She sniffed her wrist, licked a line from her pulse to her elbow. Flexed her arm back & forth. Bent it back & forth again. Blue veins turned bluer. Took tiny bites out of her pulse in time. Is not everyone around lovers vampires? Is this external feeding not part of making moves & moviesósome people understand this, this tasting blood particles through air. Calling the in from without the skin. A voodoo of another. Instinct. Instinct is what held them together.

She reached for the bowl decisively, palm up, wrist exposed & pink. "Donít we do that already?"


Kara Dorris earned a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas where she teaches writing. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Southword, The Tusculum Review, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, Tinderbox, Rising Phoenix, Hayden Ferry Review, The Tulane Review, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her stories have appeared in Wordgathering and the anthology The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked (Cinco Puntos Press, 2016). She has published two chapbooks: Elective Affinities (Dancing Girl Press, 2011) and Night Ride Home (Finishing Line Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Lingerpost, an online poetry journal.