Elisabeth Benjamin

I will never mention boys again, or the land they people, because everything I licked there tasted like salt, and not the clean quick zip of the iodized saltshaker to my lips but the salt from a great churning sea, a sea that when I touched it I grew thirsty through my palms. I thought I'd lose my hair. Every boy there sweat like a great sea. And every boy cradled something under his arm like a football, although only one cradled an actual football, the born athlete. Each boy cradled birds or ciabatta or a telephone book depending on his career. One boy looked at all times ready to feed a horse an apple. One boy was prepared to hunt mushrooms in a burn. One boy was always poised to choke on a bite of sandwich. I walked from boy to boy and licked their faces and inspected their careers. The lawyer tasted like the football player like the statistician, equally salty, and also the tree and the lip of the clawfoot bathtub. The boy setting fire to the wax museum. The one with the flouncy tongue. The boy eating a fistful of salad greens. One boy's commitment to pageantry; another's to the clock at the end of the hall. The boy who fell buttered-side down. No one spoke except to say Excuse me, but the context was never politeness. Excuse me had an edge to it, all the boys were salty. One boy's career was floating wooden spoons down a stream. There was one remarkably regular boy wearing suspenders, yet he refused to serve as my tour guide. None of the boys played woodwinds. There was something deep-sea-creature in every boy's countenance—a special coating, a faraway smell, braided neck veins, every boy's great saltiness. A faint gurgle inside each Excuse me. Hands. It wasn't healthy there. It affected my blood pressure. No one in the land of boys was born old or without purpose. None of them paid particular attention to me. The boy mime only did Gargoyle. When I asked him to do Woman, he said Excuse me. My visit was unexpectedly chaste. The boy who hid himself was unable to conceal his feet. I feel a hunger I don't deserve.




I discovered these boys at The Hunger Museum, which houses many oddities. While I was there, I bought a perfume that makes me smell like a baby.