GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT | Kate Jayroe
Melanie looks good enough to eat.
My task has been completed. It has been completed well.
Well; medium well.
I’m made aware of this when the tines of my fork make Melanie’s ass cheek flake in near-perfect pert angle of 90 degrees. After being roasted, so conventionally, at 325.
Rubbed. Then roasted — with many fine oils. A symphony of lipids glossed onto and then burned into aromatic success in flesh.
Melanie demanded fennel. “Rub it on my thighs”, she said, arching her back.
“Scratch me”, she said, bending her neck. That licorice echo of scent wafted grand and awful. That dark smell of aged candy.
Lemon juice would soon wash her scratches. Melanie clenched hips but laughed up top, a chuckle gone sour in knowing its part in penultimate exchange. When the fruit was gutted and gone from lemon insides, I covered each eye with a hollow citrus half.
And cumin, to make her pale belly bronzed and fuzzed with ground seed. And cayenne, for the lips, the crudest rouge, adding heat to something already abundant in heat. And garlic, yes garlic, nestled into closed underarm and bended knee. And coriander leaves, to taste, atop the shallow wells of Melanie’s collarbones. And yet salt, and yet pepper, to adorn the slats of Melanie’s ribs. Spaces so spare and perfect.
I usher Melanie into the preheated oven with care, her body pretzled to fit into confines of Pyrex. Melanie picked a scalloped dish special for this very evening. Ordered it online and tracked it with childlike fevered anticipation. When she opened the box and un-taped the bubblewrap veil, she went rigid and bright in bodily satisfaction. Rods and cones and cartilage and arteries and veins and bones — all a-glow with ancient, dignified relief.
As Melanie roasts, her presence furthers, grows quite loud. The house erupts with nervous sweat. Floorboards buckle and swell in time with the sizzling of something dripping from the oven rack. Her spiced and brackish bouquet chokes me like soft leather. I welcome this painful narrowing of capability. Smoke, thick and honeyed, clouds vision to tremored blinks. And then.
The kitchen timer buzzes in a strange minor trill.
Kate Jayroe is from Little Mountain, South Carolina and lives in Portland, Oregon. She is an MFA candidate at Portland State University and serves on staff with the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Other works by Kate appear in Word Riot, Stirring, S T I L L, and The Gravity of the Thing.