The women do not have sex. They are my family. I know that things can be hidden behind closed doors. I know how to keep secrets despite the fact that we are watched each day, the door cracked open in the dark, our chaste sleep observed. Despite all of this, I know that the women who share twin beds and dress in the same clothes every morning, who bow their heads together, whispering secrets, conferring, I know these women do not have sex.
It would be easy enough to make them into the cliche, the mother-daughter bond soured to meanness, brittle and cold and yet there is the problem. These women, my flesh and my blood, are fond of play. They play with the innocence of children. They wrestle and they flirt and they dance and make jokes and kid each other with a joyful easiness at time. I have three photos taken by my grandfather, developed in his darkroom with the help of me, the granddaughter. In these photographs the mother and the child walk along the beach, bend for shells, pin each other's arms behind their backs and laugh. The laughter is the thing. The laughter makes me soften to them.
They do not have sex, my flesh and blood, not in my lifetime, not in the house I shared with them. They do not touch themselves or any other. But, the women play.