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Maria Espinosa
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Art by Noelle Richardson 2018



by Maria Espinosa




He was a tall and handsome man. His voice was mellifluous as he talked about  vibrations of energy and chakra balancing as well as the benefits of a regular yoga practice.  In the pulpit of the Methodist Church in a prim San Francisco neighborhood (rented for the occasion by the East-West Meditation Center, which still lacked a home base) he spoke for forty minutes, after which he strummed on his guitar, sang a khirtan, and asked the audience to join. “Sri ram, jai ram, jai ram ram om,” Marcia sang, along with the rest of the audience, comprised mostly of women.

Afterwards she came up to him, dressed in her new turquoise summer dress with the tight-fitting bodice and low neckline, and she asked where she might study yoga. Did he give classes?  No, he said, not yet, although that was in the offing. But he did teach privately.

The next day she showed up at his apartment.  Because she had just been fired from her last job, she had free time.  What would she wear for the lesson?  Her unflattering shorts?  Leotard tights?  It was June, and the day was hot and sunny. She decided on her bikini.  It was a soft shade of orange. Later, when she entered his apartment, she saw that the loincloth he wore was the same shade. What a coincidence! They were attuned on some level, she decided.  And how well muscled he was. Even more handsome with fewer clothes—as she, too, was also more attractive scantily clad. Thank God for her firm body.  At twenty-five, she religiously practiced her modern dance exercises each morning.  They had helped her through child birth and now they helped keep her limber, keep her slender despite the heavy commute driving and work schedule she’d had until last week.

She felt blissfully unconcerned about the firing. Unemployment would kick in!  Vacation time! Her baby daughter at the sitter’s, a saintly woman who took Carmelita in at 6:00 a.m. and sometimes even kept her overnight when Marcia would be out late or entertaining a lover.

It was 1965. Free love. The Pill. “Let’s do it in the road,” sang the Beatles. Marcia had many lovers, after evenings of parties which featured brown rice and marijuana. Or the No Name Bar in Sausalito, which she thought of as her own special private club.  There she might weep on a stranger’s shoulder—and after a while they all knew each other more or less, the black sheep who received monthly remittances from families hoping to keep them at bay, the artists, the semi-legal French immigrants, the small-time and big-time drug dealers, the attorneys who considered themselves creative or laid back or liberal.  There she could sip Irish coffees (usually some kind stranger would end up footing the bill) and talk with her friends, which included a few women who were adrift like her.  Mimi, the charming New Orleans tarot reader was one.  Adriana, from Cuba, sincere, searching, disillusioned with the Church, was another.  Then there was Joyce, who claimed that she had gone home with a different man each night…until she found The One.

          Now Marcia had free time.  And she planned to enjoy it.

          His apartment was somewhat luxurious with its rich deep blue carpet, its beige sofas, and a tiger skin rug from India. Translucent white curtains fluttered in the breeze which blew through opened windows. Light traffic sounded from Clement Street below.

A polished antique dining table and sideboard in an alcove off the living room.  His bedroom, with its large bed, a purple satin comforter.  The sunny kitchen. The bathroom with its small black and white tiles of decades ago, and a lingering scent of incense.

          In the bedroom – door closed for privacy—she slipped off her dress and underwear, put on her bikini, and then stepped barefoot into the living room. He, too, was barefoot, in his orange loin cloth.  Around his upper right arm he wore thick metal coils of gold, silver, and copper.

          Let us begin, he said.

          He started with the Tree Pose and took her through some basic asanas. She was thrilled.  This was her very first exposure to yoga, and in 1965 it was still considered somewhat exotic.

          How limber you are, he said.  His azure blue eyes beamed approval.

          She asked about his arm bracelets.

          They are protective, he said. Yogananda suggested that I wear them.

Yogananda was his guru, his guide. Yogananda, he said, had given direction and blessing and purpose to his life.

          Afterwards they sat silently in meditation, he on the tiger skin, and she on the carpet.  Then he made her breakfast of chappatis, Indian wheatcakes, which he flipped skillfully in a frying pan. I use only ghee or clarified butter, he said.

She had brought him an offering of canned pineapple juice.  He regarded it with contempt. Canned, he said. I never eat anything out of cans. 

His parents, he said, paid for the apartment, and in return, they came to stay overnight once or twice a month. They lived in the south bay in Atherton. His father was a retired oil executive, and he himself was a monk. He had taken vows of abstinence, at Yogananda’s urging.

After breakfast, he asked if she would massage his shoulders, which had been stiff lately. 

How smooth his skin felt beneath her fingers.

Sex, he said, diverts the energy flow. With kriya—a technique I will show you when you are ready—the energy flows upwards from the lower chakras, and sexual energy is transformed, alchemized.

And yet how smooth he felt beneath her fingers.

And after she had massaged his shoulders, his neck, his upper arms, he drew her to him and kissed her lightly on the lips.

Of course, after several yoga sessions, they ended up in his bed.

Sometimes, he said, it is better to release sexual energy.  Frustration and inhibition can create harm within the body.

But he was still a monk.

          His parents were coming to visit, he announced one afternoon after a tryst in bed. You must leave.  She was tempted to drop a few bobby pins on the floor of the guest bathroom, leave her panties wedged beneath the sofa cushions.  Yet she simply left, taking with her all traces of her presence, leaving nothing behind except for a faint aroma of Jean Nate.

Art by Rich MacNeill 2018

A Turn for the Worse


by M. Espinosa



You are beautiful and intelligent and classy. Women your age pay to get laid. He turns towards me, momentarily taking his hands off the wheel.


The mountain road is steep with sharp hairpin curves.


Are you telling me to be grateful for the occasional fuck?


Oh shit, can’t you take a joke? He presses down on the gas. 


I tighten my scarf against the wind, which is messing my hair as it blows through the open window. He holds the electronic controls.


Can’t you shut the damned window?


I need the fresh air, he says.


We stop in a small mountain town for cold sodas. A secondhand shop intrigues me.  Old jewelry is displayed the window. 


We walk inside, and inside the front counter is an antique silver ring with a gorgeous blue sapphire in its center. 


It fits my ring finger perfectly, as if it were made for me.


How much?


Sixty-five dollars.


I take out a credit card, pay for it, and wear it out of the shop. I let its energy flow through my body


When we drive back into Albuquerque with its crowded Central Avenue, it is dusk.  We park and go inside our apartment. It has been over a month since we had sex.


In his mind I’m an old broad who is lucky not to have to pay. But then, I am paying. I am his major source of support. Without me, he’d be on the street.


We get into bed and he turns his back. He is always so tired at night.


There is no rage like that of a woman scorned.


The ring vibrates through me.


I go to an herbalist in the old Mexican district of the City. Each day I pour just a few grains of the mixture she has prepared into his morning coffee—about an eighth of a teaspoon, the size of a baby’s fingernail.


That night, in bed, he caresses my shoulders and breasts. I pretend to be asleep.


Over the months, he grows more ardent.


But he also looks older.


His erections begin to fail.


A year has passed. I return from my morning run, prepare his oatmeal, help him to the table, and feed him spoonfuls of the soft substance. The gray in my hair has vanished. My breasts no longer sag. My thighs have lost their cellulite. I’ve begun to menstruate again.


Sometimes I’m late after a tryst with the new man in my life, and then the poor soul is hungry and anxious when I return.




Maria Espinosa managed to get expelled from Harvard, and has lived  most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area. A recent transplant to New Mexico, she feels that her roots are finally beginning to penetrate the hard, dry desert earth. Maria has published two several award-winning novels. They include Longing, Dying Unfinished, Incognito: Journey of a Secret Jew, and an earlier novel, of which she rarely speaks, Dark Plums, about a Manhattan prostitute. Since then, she has completed another novel, not yet published, and has begun a sixth. Website:

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