Medesha wanders the seashore. Her feet pick their way over the loose stones, piles of which sink and cave in upon themselves as she walks down to the barrier of the black groyne. Sea-spray breaks against the wood in angry showers that splash toward her. Wind whips hair into her eyes. She stands for a moment feeling the strength of those forces, and then turns away. There is salt on her lips as she climbs back over the pebble dunes into their sheltered lee. In their refuge Medesha scans the full length of the empty strand, the small strip of deck houses on the edge of the point. She should head back there now to her desk, but she doesn’t want words, she wants to be out here amongst things. She crouches down in the wet, salt shelter of the dunes, folding herself into her knees. She checks her wrist, as though some absent time-piece could reveal how much longer it is before Jax is due. But her bare, sallow arm doesn’t have to announce he won’t be there until the weekend; she already knows. Medesha runs her fingers over the cold stones at her feet. Lightly she moves her left arm forward and her right back as if she were stirring water. In this way she discovers the bone.
        The bone is almost warm to the touch. She picks it up, holds its lightness in the palm of her hand. A strange, angular bone, washed white by the sea. Smooth fins curve like wings away from a discreet, triangular cave. Her mind runs in two directions, logic flowing forward, naming, identifying: sheep, cow, backbone, vertebrae; instinct stirring her darkness: the bone is pelvic, feminine. It seems to belong somewhere important. She lets her fingers trace the bone’s smooth lines. They find no flaw. Curious about such purity, Medesha slips the bone into her pocket.
         By the time she reaches the house, the sky has descended to press down upon the land. Misted rain washes the tarmac road. The tide is moving up the beach, rising into the dunes. Medesha steps out of the wet scene, bars it behind the closed door of the house. She takes the bone from her pocket and climbs to the bedroom where she peels off damp trousers, and gets into bed. Her hair is dripping about her face; she pushes it back from her eyes, and then her hands flutter down to hold the bone in her palms. 
        For a time she doesn’t move. At length, Medesha puts the bone on the nightstand. She turns the lamp on, watching the way yellow light falls, casting shadows on the bone’s curves. Medesha moves the bone until it balances, wings uplifted, lamp light falling in a way that casts no shadow.
        Medesha lies back on the bed. She stares at the bone. She closes her eyes and she can see its imprint behind her lids. Her hand runs a light touch over her skin, barely drawing a brush across her breasts, it soothes down over her belly. Muscles tighten to let her fingers slip beneath the taut elastic of her knickers. She traces the familiar lines of her pelvis, her angular hips, the curve of her mound. From somewhere between the darkening sky and the yellow light that falls on the bone beside her, images of Jax glide into her thinking. Images of him the last time they were together in this bed. Her cheeks flush with a subtle excitement as she folds back into memory. 
        Medesha’s toes curl as she touches herself. Slowly her hips grind, her feet arch. Her legs tighten and relax and tighten. And then she isn’t gentle anymore. On the skylight a sudden squall of rain, a gull shrieks, flaps white against the square of grey sky. Through half-closed eyes, Medesha sees its pale wings chase air, a glimpse of their arcing movement works its way into her fantasy, driving her further inland.

        It is still raining the next day. Harsh, unforgiving rain. Medesha cannot go outdoors. She sits in front of the large window in the sitting room. The mass of water beyond the glass rises up into her body. She feels saturated. With so much water in and around her, Medesha reaches for clay. There is a dried out bag of it in the downstairs cupboard. With difficulty Medesha makes it workable again. She plys it in her hands, thinks about the bone she found on the beach. She tries to copy its form, but the clay won’t do as she wishes. Instead her hands begin to shape a fragile torso. As she adds small rolls of clay, the figure gains arms, then legs. Medesha smoothes over the joins until the tiny body in her hands is seamless. Medesha’s fingertips play for a long time over the figure’s hips. She plucks with her short nails until the figure has a pelvis exactly like her own. 
        Medesha’s fingers find silence, they smooth over the slight belly, the subtle breasts. And then when the figure can not be improved upon, Medesha’s hands begin to distort its perfection. It’s knees buckle. She bends it over so the tiny frame is scrunched on all fours. The grace the figure owned when standing twists. What remains is a fragile, awkward pose: a Belsen figure, all limbs and bones. Medesha moves the legs backwards a little, she arches the feet just so, pulls the arms out to the front until they strain. There should be a pillow near the face. A breathlessness. There should be a man behind, a careless hand on her back. 
        Rain falls on the windowpane. Medesha doesn’t notice. She is drying out. Tenderly she lays the finished figure on the windowsill. She takes another lump of clay. Her fingers form a woman curled tight on her back, knees pressed into her chest. The toes are wrapped awkwardly like bound feet. Where the vagina should be Medesha smoothes the clay carefully. She feels no need for lines or holes. 
        The third figure Medesha makes is on its back with two stiff legs pointing upright, forced slightly backwards towards the head. The clay won’t stand upright for Medesha; it folds back as heavy legs might, awkward and cumbersome. When she leaves the figure to dry, she has to prop the legs against a small box.
        All afternoon Medesha works, moods passing through her like the rain clouds scurrying in from the sea. By evening there are six figures lined along the windowsill. Medesha runs her hand above each of them. She nods her head. They have assuaged her.
All evening her hands are stained with clay but she doesn’t scrub it off.  She sleeps with it beneath her fingernails.

         Medesha sleeps so deeply that in the morning she doesn’t hear Jax’s unexpected knocking.
         “I couldn’t wait any longer,” he says, leaving down his crash-helmet, putting his wet arms around her. His bike-leathers are soaked, his hair crushed and twisted in different directions, but Jax still has that scent about him that invites Medesha. She follows her nose into the unyielding folds of his bike suit. The two of them are a tangle of dressing gown, wet leather, the metal cold of zips, Jax’s hands hustling at her T-shirt for the dusky comfort of her flesh. 
         Jax pulls away, “Any chance of a coffee first, I’m frozen.”
         Jax winks. In the sitting room Medesha takes off her dressing gown, hands it to Jax. She walks to the kitchen in her T-shirt. Jax strips off. He climbs into the Medesha-scented robe, kneels up on the sofa looking out at the rough sea.
         “Tide’s high today,” he says.
         “It’s been that way for days,” Medesha’s voice comes mumbled from the kitchen.
         “Hey,” Jax calls, “why don’t these guys have any hair?” 
         There is the sound of something dropped in the other room. 
         Medesha comes as far as the doorframe. Jax is leaning close to her clay figures. 
         “They’re not guys.”  She says.
         Jax is kneeling, looking at the hanging breasts of the woman on all fours. “Oh,” he whispers. He turns to look at Medesha and then back at the little figures as if he has just realised what they mean. “Oh.” 
         Medesha seeks cover. She sinks into an armchair, draws her legs under her T-shirt. Her hands come up to hide her eyes, then circle down to cover her mouth.
         “They’re incredible, Desh,” Jax falters. His lips move to say something else, but the room is suddenly full of noise. The clay figures yelling from their wordless world. Medesha can’t quiet them, it is they who silence her. And though part of her recognizes she should rush to answer Jax’s confusion, she can’t, she doesn’t want to explain anything. Speech now would only make the figures crawl back into her cells. She looks at the little bodies, she sees them with Jax’s eyes. They are not so different from positions she and Jax have been in. She almost wishes she hadn’t made them. But what she really wishes is that Jax hadn’t seen them. His presence damages something, and she doesn’t want anything more to be broken; nothing should sever her frail communion with the tiny figures. At last she struggles to say, “They’re nothing to do with you. They’re from before.” 
         “But you made them—”
         “Yesterday,” Medesha pulls her knees tighter to her chest. She looks out beyond the window through Jax as if he wasn’t there. The sky is slate, lashed to the sea with bonds of rain.
         “They’re nothing to do with us. With you...” Medesha falters.
         “I thought—” Jax says starring at the figures, “I thought we—” He looks pained.
         “They’re from before,” Medesha says again. He is stealing them from her, making them his own. Medesha can’t bear the hurt in his eyes. Yesterday, with the clay, she hadn’t even thought of him. God, Jax hadn’t even crossed her mind.
            But now he is here, they are saying something to him she hadn’t intended. And she can’t care about that. If anything, she needs him to understand what they mean to her. She needs it understood without her having to say it aloud. They have nothing to do with her relationship with Jax. Nothing. She could scream. She has no words, no apology. She wishes him gone. He is too large and wet and leathered for her space. Medesha sighs, she moves from the armchair and goes upstairs. 

        In her room Medesha makes the bed. She tidies underwear from the floor. She touches things, hangs a scarf over a chair, straightens her hairbrush on the dresser. Then she sits on the bed, boiling. She lets herself lie down, folding backwards into the covers. She pulls them over her head. She wants the world to be that small, that safe. There are furies in her ears. She wants to yell at Jax. You want to know? You want to know? That first was John Gordon, a day when his parents were out. I was fifteen. My face in sofa cushions. And that one was how Ed Morris liked it best. That one, that was Simon, and that was Nick. That one was Becca’s dad some night I left her looking for me at a party. 
        And they trespassed, she thinks. And I let them. 
        Christ, Medesha thinks. Christ, that’s not even the half of it. Christ Jax! Yesterday they didn’t have names. Do you want names? All of them? Yesterday they weren’t even tangible as memories; they were feelings. The past getting up and leaving my body. Now you’ve brought it all back on a platter. That last one, that was some jerk I was only with for one night. Christ, Jax, if you really want to know he might as well be all of them. We were in every one of those positions that night. And none of them comfortable.
         Jax’s feet are on the stairs. The sound frightens her out from under the covers. Jax is standing in the doorway, bearing coffee.
        He hands her a mug, sits down on the end of the bed. “They’re beautiful, Medesha. I'm sorry.”
        Medesha shifts uncomfortably. She pushes her hair behind her ears.
        “There’s no need to be sorry,” she shrugs, but some part of her is lying. There is a need to be sorry. Not for Jax perhaps, but for somebody somewhere.
         “I should have rung, let you know I was coming.”
         Medesha frowns. What if she had known? Was she supposed to have hidden the figures? Would she have? There hadn’t been time to think. And then that word of his rising in her mind, beautiful. Beautiful.
         She wants to say, they’re not beautiful, how can you even think that? But she knows they are beautiful. To him. Like a word that in one language means poison and in another means gift. But more than that, she recognizes they are beautiful in that way of terrible things.
         “You’re busy here, I can tell. I shouldn’t have interrupted,” Jax says, “I’ll come back at the weekend.”
         “At the weekend?” Medesha echoes. “But you just got here. You’re clothes are soaking.” She reaches out, touching the familiar cloth of her dressing gown. “You can’t go.”
         Jax shrugs. There is a silence, a teetering moment Medesha cannot fill. Her hand stays fixed on the dressing gown. “You can’t go,” she whispers reaching to touch his face. His cheek feels rough beneath her fingers.
         “You need a shave,” she says gently.
         Jax kisses her fingertips. He nods. 
         He moves closer, the Jax-scent from his skin reaching Medesha before his mouth does. His lips are warm and coffee-flavoured, but the hair that brushes against her face is cold and wet.
        “You’re freezing,” she says, “come here.”
        Jax moves into her arms, the dressing gown falling open to reveal the mapped territory of his chest. Medesha pulls his cold body toward her warmth. They lie back onto the pillows. His leg hooks hers and settles. 
        “Don’t go,” she says.
        Jax puts his chin on the top of her head; he nods gently. 
        They lie like that, neither speaking. It takes a long time for the clay figures to get up and leave the room. Jax touches her neck, lightly, a small dance of fingers against skin and then gradually a descent into something deeper. The room and the house and the world condense into his touch. Only the rain on the skylight maintains its independence, then it too falls in accord with his fingers. Its sound becomes his touch, as if Jax were also the rain. And then she knows he is not the rain falling against her essence, he is what makes the rain. It descends at his request in drops whose weight makes precise, aquatic music. Jax pushes harder at her neck, not at the soft places that hold her together, but deep into her unyielding bones. She feels them solid and immovable as the pebble dunes that define the strand. He could press at her for all time and nothing would change or give. But then his hand loosens and lifts to whisper against her spine, inching its length down, his touch flows into her as water, first rain on her tongue, then rain coursing her veins. 
        His fingers find the mysterious triangle at the base of her spine, her strange storehouse of auguries and hieroglyphics, which lit by the torch of Jax’s fingers flash moments of coded truth whose revelation belongs in the future. Understanding that even he may not dwell too long in that place, Jax’s hands move lower, stroke at the soft territory where her back dissolves, his fingers trace to articulate the curves of her arse, so that when at last she reaches for him, she knows he has moulded her, breathed life in to her body. 
        His fingers sculpt onward so there is not just the feel of skin and touch and rain, there is also the building hunger of the sea swelling a storm, incrementally rising to take her as its own. A boundless sea, which erodes conscious thought until all that remains is need, need that causes her to turn and dive, to take Jax’s flushed cock in to her mouth with the purposeful claiming of a necessity. Her mouth plunges in waves, rippling down the way water swirls and breaks over the wet wood of groyne posts on the strand. Swirling around him to rise and fall in a swallow of suck and surrender, the troughs of her waves recede to reveal wood momentarily triumphed before the waters of her lips rush back in. She is not held back. Her lips swollen and sensitized so when they break over his cock she is feeding the surge of herself. Waves rushing in from the far horizon flow forward not just to break against his solidity, but, in so doing, to define their own nature; allowing those moments of pull and suck and tongue to articulate not just their own power, but their deep, unashamed love of self, and life.
        And Jax moves to cover her vulva with his mouth, lets the rasp of his tongue on her soft self complete a circle that propels the grey sky down over the surface of the sea, lets rain fall in innumerable arrows of sensation that augment the gathered swell. She is down deep in the sea’s reaches, her stone self merged with water, sucking back in tides that seem solid as the strand and then dissolve into a loose pull of countless stones caught up and pounded back against their own bank, so that stone rounds into water, water gushes in a tumble of lifted pebbles, the whole pulled back and thrown forward with a thunder of sound in her ears, a sound she can’t stop, nor would if she could, as it pours her forward onto his body again.
        The trance of rain on sea in waves that break to define themselves around Jax’s answering self remains an infinite cycle of storm, a drama of elements operating in a cloud hung somewhere in the realms of the gods, until Jax recalls her from eternity with an urgency born of earthly, finite things. Suddenly pulling his cock away so that beach, stones, waves, groyne, pull asunder into their separate natures, she fizzes back into her body caught and held by the arms that invite her up on top of him, and she, Medesha, moves her breasts into the waiting embrace of his expressive fingers, drives down on to his cock, all woman.
        Her breasts pulse with incommunicable verse, his urgent fingers become the conduits by which she is translated. His patient, enduing interest in the foreign language of her, as she pushes down on his body, engenders crude sound from her brimming tongue. Encouraging her toward language, Jax puts his sure mouth to her breast and draws. His arms furl round her hips to find the small triangular shelter at the base of her spine, his fingers press into its skin, into the small caves that hold prayers even secret to herself. Inarticulate moans brook from her dumb mouth in a flow like a thaw from another place, and if she is to carry summer into that land that knows no spring, no wonder it rocks her body with this strange, demonic war that could be pain, but must ultimately be the triumph of pleasure, where blue gentians burst open in a place Jax can’t see but is still a world he alone has found the way to, so that when she falls back from him in an arc of burnt completion, it is his cock against the blue of gentians that glows like a trophy in the thing that was once her mind.
        Only its image can not stay because Jax has climbed up on top of her and is moving back into her body. He thrusts forward. Moves faster. The bed shakes. Faster. Building his momentum Jax’s fingers twist fists of bedclothes, the demand of his thighs thrusts the bed from its inanimate nature. Hooked into a life of motion, the bed rebels. Unwilling to surrender to the engine of Jax’s body, it sheds covers, knocks at obstacles in insurrection, lashes out at the nightstand, so that the stand rocks, its lamp pitches and crashes. The white bone, which Medesha placed there so carefully the day before, tumbles from its balance to spill to the floor.
        So that later when Medesha finds it lying on the cusp of the dark space beneath her bed, she knows its purity is somehow lost to her. And somehow found.					  

Grace Wells is an English poet living in Ireland. She is a regular contributor to Contrary. Read more of her work here...>Grace-Wells.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0

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