When he thought of Sarah, he thought of salt on her upper lip. That perspiration that was not so much a wilting as a blooming. Her skin was lit from inside, radiating light like Caravaggio’s bodies. (She knew about painting. He did not, but she had shown him her art books – his painting of Salome holding John the Baptist’s head on a platter; her chest illuminated white in the darkness of the room, like the muscular torso of a young boy lit from the side and staring down at head of the Baptist. They are all placid – the severed head particularly so.) Her skin was not so much the floodlit white of Salome or of the Madonna, but an earthy, dirty blush – all red clay and body heat.
In August, with no air conditioning in their city apartment, they had a fan going all the time. Sarah would sit in front of it, place an ice cube between her breasts and let it melt like butter in a pan. It slicked her skin like butter and joined the salt of her sweat. He loved the look of it – wet skin that threw off reflections, the hint of steam as water rose to vapor. He would reach out and touch a breast, nuzzle and suckle it like a calf, and she would chuckle low and hold his head, clutch his damp hair in her fist.
Those days were good: no TV, just the radio and the fan and the cramped apartment. They would have oranges bought by the bag for breakfast and strong coffee, read the paper, compete to see who could get the most words in the crossword puzzle first. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.