on strumming oneself

This is mine.

Melt me to the sheets; send me to the scratched stars; slip me into tomorrow. No one can take this from me. The feeling swells within, legs paralyzed in pleasure. Busy little fingers know just what to do. Open mouthed, silent.

This feeling consumes me. I forget to breathe. I breathe heavy. I spiral into myself, gasping. I am focused and curious, pleased to know I can so easily extract this amount of pleasure from and for myself.


Talia swished her delicate hand through the air, as if casting a spell.

I sat on the edge of her bed, trying to count the many rings on her pixie-sized fingers. And her stick-and-poke tattoos… four, five, six dots patterned like ellipsis; faded black ink looping like rings on her pinkies.

“Like this,” Talia had said, silver bracelets tinkling as she demonstrated the tight, circling movement with her finger.

The conversation had gone from books, to boys, to masturbating, and suddenly she was sharing secrets about her personal experiences with pleasuring herself. I was blushingly shy on the topic, while she was all smiles and sincerity, discussing her clitoris as if it was a commonplace topic.

“Right,” I’d replied, trying to sound confident, sassy. “Simple as,” gesturing my own tentative hand through the space between us.

I lay back on her bed, a colorful pile of pillows, trying to act as if this “common knowledge” hadn’t just altered my sexual reality. How had I not known this? Why had this delicious truth been kept hush-hush my entire adolescence?

Talia moved on as quickly as she had arrived at the topic. But all I could think about was what I was going to do when I was next alone. Years of orgasm-less teenage sex had me craving climax in a deep and selfish way.


What’s your name?

Lilikoi. Passion fruit. Maracuyá. Call me what you like. It’s all the same to me.

Describe yourself: Well-rounded. Thick-skinned but easily opened. A little bit bitter, sour, even, but those who eat me often say I taste sweet. Outside, smooth skinned, waxy almost. And inside, I am slick slippery, nearly impossible to pinch between two fingers. Almost like jellyfish jell, or frog eggs spewed in the tangles of river plants.

You can chew my seeds (crunchy, bitter, black) or swallow them whole. It’s all the same to me.

Some say I’m the embodiment of abundance—Goddess of Fertility!—and it’s true: I carry my seeds inside me, each individually incubated in embryo-fruit-goo. I’ll be ready to reproduce when I crack open, seeds and glop oozing into some nice topsoil somewhere. But isn’t it that way with all fruit?


Put your throbbing finger on that button. Take yourself to bed. Just lie there, hold yourself. Because it’s you whom you must love. Explore yourself. Fall in love with the details of you.

Be there in the morning when you wake up.


My first orgasm occurred hours after Talia had so casually described the basics of female self-pleasuring.

I biked home that evening, thinking, my-clit-my-clit-my-clit as I rubbed rhythmically on the bike seat. I’d touched myself before, sure. But only palm to holy crotch, feeling the warmth it emitted, like some breathing, secret aspect of myself. Not knowing what to do, really, once I got down there, my fingers explored the way any adolescent fingers would: up and around and side-to-side. Tingles, aching pang, self-turn on, clitoris enraged, horny like three years of sex with boys and still no orgasm.

I went to bed that night, head full of new knowledge, eager to touch myself just right, to bring myself to climax. But I had a boyfriend, and he sort of lived with me, and I sort of lived with him. I wanted so bad to be left alone with my body. To find these buttons for myself, so I might then teach him.

He followed me to bed, me all, “Oh, I’m pretty tired tonight,” pretending to nod off. Him all, “Sure, sure, I’ll read to you from this book I just got.” And he read chapter one from Wade Davis’s The Wayfinders. Scenes of voyaging canoes, of wet-wet oceans, scenes of discovery and exploration and visiting new lands. To be honest, I heard no words. I was concerned mostly with his voice staying loud enough to cover the rustling of the sheets and my irregular breathing.

And that’s how my first orgasm occurred: secret and hiding and entirely mine.