Saturday 21 June 2008

Mary Bakes Bread by the Fire

Mary bakes bread by the fire, stout hands kneading fleshy fingers tightening and rolling amid folds of white dough. The flames flicker higher on her forearms match the red sweat of her face, fan the flicker of hate in her eyes. Mary is not pretty; Mary is not slender; Mary is not elegant; Mary bakes sweet dainties for sweet dainty ladies who are everything Mary is not.

Fire rises, fire warms, fire destroys, fire consumes. Mary is the light reflected in polished copper, bronze fireplace ornaments, pokers and tongs. Hammers and Tongs, she goes at it, the dirty wench. Mary blinks thoughts from her mind that she wishes were not there; but there they lurk, constant. Mary is not happy to be - Mary.

Fat Mary, Big Mary, Slow Mary. Hail Mary. Priest would not approve, Preacher would disavow. Wise woman says, make bread by the fire.

Mary bakes bread by the fire, sweltering in heat, heart rate raised, flushed and warm and moist, smelling her own body with each movement, enjoying now the sway of buttocks, the roll of fat, the swell and ebb of the heavy mix.
Mary is not alone, eyes watch transfixed, eyes follow buttock, hip and arm, eyes and mouth and nose concur, hands open door, feet cross floor.
Wise woman warns Mary. You don’t know what may happen. Mary doesn’t care. Mary is strong; Mary is brave; Mary is capable; Mary bakes bread for women whoa re everything Mary is not. She is tired of being only the names they choose to call her. She wants new names. Mother, Lover, Woman. The fire is still rising, she will not bank it down.

Someone moves closer, someone who should know better, old enough to know better, better educated, better born. Someone called better than Mary, bends over her, whispers to her, sweet words, soft words.
Fingers intertwined, breath mingling, hearts beating, arms still kneading, twisting, hands exploring soft, yielding - flesh or dough? Mary no longer knows. All she can think is yes, all she can reason is that this is hers, for her, about her. She is the one, the dancer in the centre of the hall, the masked lady performing for the court, she is the centre and the cause. Still the fire rises, eyes meet finally, surprise and intrigue leap between. Mary wonders, but she does not pause. Some things you wait for too long.
Priest would cluck, Goodwives sniff, Wise Woman merely smiled and winked – lascivious old woman enjoying the faint heat from another, faraway Hearth. Wise Woman gave oils, to be rubbed into the folds at the bosom, at the belly, in the soft crevices where leg meets sex, on the pulse; unguents that unfurl in the heat of the fire, mingled with the smell of baking, working their way into the sweat and tears and kisses. Wise Woman did not turn away, did not preach abstinence, did not despise the woman who yearned. Wise Woman merely smiled and winked.
Mary returns to herself, to the moment, to the heat. Spent and panting, bemused and wondering. Strong arms surround her, throaty chuckles into her neck, affection on a face that she thought had never noticed her. Strange words in her ear, words that caress and tease. She is not despised nor discarded. She has been noticed and wanted. She is not invisible in this place, perhaps never has been – dark eyes are troubled by her silence. Dark eyes smile into hers and ask questions men ask only of women whose hearts are not overlooked. Mary is warmed by more than fire. Heat rises from more than flame and coal. Mary feels cool flagstone tile under bare skin, and is suddenly afraid.

to be continued.......


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