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April 21, 2021
Words by Madison Pawle.
IT WAS THE SUMMER OF WANTING MORE.
Alone in a small studio with pale yellow walls and a single bed (its best feature: the balcony. Bougainvillea framed, hanging over a quiet laneway, the sea in the distance), I fell into a rhythm of slow pleasure, as a means and a means again with no end in sight.
Walking along the dirt road to Megas Limnionas beach, plucking heavy purple figs from the tree that meant I was halfway there. Peeling them open in my palm as I walked. The flesh sighing, ripe and ready to leak its juice. Jammy soft sweetness, seeds popping between teeth, fingers sticky. Stretching out over the raw sienna stones of the shore, skin swallowing sun; then, diving under into cool wet silk. All the while, my longing – humming beneath it all.
We had fallen in love a few months earlier – weeks passing in a haze of hedonism – and had spent all our time together since. But we both had travel planned for summer, and so we decided to meet halfway, in Barcelona. It was still a month before I would see her.
For me, loneliness is an inherent experience of solo travel – one that rushes in to fill the gaps. My longing turned this loneliness to solitude, a richer space. I wrote, endlessly, spinning thought and feeling into sentences that dripped with desire – a desire that slowed, making expansive the smallest of moments, fining my senses, widening my vision.
This, I think, is what Audre Lorde means when she writes that the way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy...That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible…
I hadn’t known this before. Desire was a frightening force, one that made me greedy. I had shied away, muted it. And now, this old skin was being peeled away by a lover who was unashamed of always wanting more and was showing me how, her hands making gestures inside me, willing me out – breaking me open and finding me full of juice.
The words I wrote to her over those weeks, eventually took shape as poems – became 'Messy Sex'.
A few days ago, I sat next to my friend Toby at a dinner party. He was one of the first to buy the zine, and is also a writer – I was telling him that looking back at the poems, a sense of shame flowers in me. I read them now and I’m staring back at my past self – young, naïve, bewildered.
Yeah, maybe you would write them differently now, Toby says casually, but that’s not the point.He sips his wine, it’s about raw feeling – how it’s shapeless sometimes and needs to be captured.
He’s right. I was discovering how to wrap language around each new sensation, each new pleasure. These poems shiver with it. The rush of erotic awakening, the stickiness of unfurling love, the breathlessness of realised desire. Desire being the amorphous thing that moves us, towards all our shifting horizons.
About the writer
Madison Pawle is a writer based in Naarm, on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. They are interested in story-telling and language as a means of disruption, and are currently experimenting with an interdisciplinary approach to meaning making.
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