One night, a man who slept beside me said if I put my ear on your jaw while you sleep, I can hear your teeth grinding.

He didn’t know I couldn’t sleep: that I felt him listen as my body chewed its day to dust.

As children, Naomi, my sister and I searched the Delaware beaches for conchs, native thousands of miles south.

We put the ersatz shells to our ears and hummed. None matched the ocean’s rolling right across the Cape.

I whittled my molars to flinting knifepoints in the dark, listening for the waves.

As children, our arguments about what was sex always made their way back to the mouth.

How the mandible cups the throat’s soft pillow.

I couldn’t know, as a child, how close my desire lived to fear.

How I’d open my jaw to the man’s cock the next night, testing him.

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