I’ve already seen one thing and another, even a third and a fourth in this world, but wherever I’ve searched, wherever I’ve crept, I haven’t found sex.
What sort of thing is this sex that everyone talks about and falls silent about? I don’t understand.
Now I’m married to this Giant here. Every evening he puts his heavy hands around me. He cuddles me and caresses me. Tenderly kisses my three mouths and three necks. I become more and more heated from this until I start spouting flames and then gradually cool down, like lava that has flowed into a cold spring. Our bed is full of smoke and in the hiss of cooling down I feel the beating of his big heart under my claws. Thump-thump-thump-thump…
But what part of all this – the beginning, the end, the middle, or all of it together – is sex, that I don’t know.
This morning I asked my husband and he answered with a laugh that sex is when I once lost my tail under our blanket and he helped me to find it.
Depressing. How is that supposed to happen again? You can’t consciously lose your tail under the blanket. That can only happen by chance. And what might also happen by chance is that I will never chance upon it again. Best to forget it altogether. The word is already getting on my nerves. Sex. Sounds like a trap being sprung. Who invented this mysterious trap anyway? Clack. And all at once it captures your most beautiful moments. It’s aggravating and intrusive. It’s a third party when you want to be alone, just the two of you. I hope I manage to forget it.
I said that to my husband’s face. He started laughing again and said he’d been joking and that losing one’s tail certainly isn’t sex.
“But what is it then?” I asked angrily.
My husband thought about it and said, “Sex is closing your mouth nicely now, not thinking about anything and simply being beautiful.”
I was desperate again. Is sex something that you do for others? That seems boring and courteous. Something like a curtsey.
I decided not to turn to my husband any more in this matter. He only makes light of it when I’m being serious.
Yet I sense that I will soon have to take up this subject again. Because lately he seems to be… somehow annoyingly patronising. There isn’t the clear, bright closeness of before between us any more. Between us there is now that curtsey, the trap springing… and… clack!… nothing is as it was before.
KRISTIINA EHIN is a highly acclaimed performer of her poetry, prose and drama in Estonian as well as English. Walker on Water is her first book of stories to be published in the U.S. In her native Estonia, she has published six volumes of poetry, three books of short stories and a retelling of South-Estonian folk tales. She has written plays, as well as poetic radio broadcasts. She has won Estonia’s most prestigious poetry prize for Kaitseala—a book of poems and journal entries written during a year spent living as a nature reserve warden on an otherwise uninhabited island off Estonia’s north coast. In the UK, she has published six translated books of poetry, three of prose and is the 2007 British Poetry Society Popescu prize winner for European poetry in translation.
Adapted from Walker on Water, by Kristiina Ehin, Copyright © 2014 by Kristiina Ehin. With the permission of the publisher, Unnamed Press.