the fog

the woman walked south
along the high cliff path.
the sun was blinding bright
the sky was blinding too
she looked down but now the sea was nowhere to be seen
instead, as far as she could fathom
a dense blanket of
piled like ermine pelts, mauve as a pebble,
she remembered
four red hands in a tin washtub scouring fleece.
the woman walked on
until she came to the rough-cut steps
that led down the steep rock face.
in places there was a rope to hold
in places there was a root to grasp
in places there was nothing
barely even a foothold
the woman held her breath til it hurt
all the time falling fowards
all the time catching herself
stepping down
one foot, then the other
until she came to the place
where the fog lapped her bare feet
as a cat laps cream. she closed her eyes
let out her breath
and then her feet were under
and then her legs were under
and then her hips were under
the fog floated her skirt like a parachute
she was surprised at how warm it was.
not warm
like a velvet bubble bath
or a plush fur coat. rather
it was like the white-hot tongue of an ox
the white-hot tongue licked up beneath her heavy skirt
wrapped itself around her thighs
pushed against her dirty long-johns
looking for skin.
the woman thought again of her dream
four red hands rocking, rocking, kneading the soaking mass the stinging steam of lye soap and sweat and milk-warm breath
and she wanted this fog
like she hadn’t wanted anything
in a very long time. like she had forgotten to want
like wanting
was a lost art
a spell for calling over,
pulling in.
down, down she sank, til she was up to her neck
in the fleece-white thick of it
burning tentacles encircling her entirely
discovering every hidden inlet
calling her to dance.
she dipped her head
and slipped under.