Essay
Tongue rolls between smiles
Alice Heyward Megan Payne



Tongue rolls between smiles

You build through your elbow with rough sculptural grace.

My own is strung low, set deep
between bones, you wave over me and

I’m your inverted mirage, rolling your edges

into covers, tipped in reverence to finding form,
finding you leaning in.
Pressure pools in my core.

You grip palm wide, in command

and close my length from sticky wrist to spiky shin,
sponge up to crest my pelvis.

Our task is to push and to surface.


Pressure sloshes through us in rivers that bed the floor

and lap up hard encounters. My fingers curl with your clavicle,
swell in their catchment
tender in armour.
Feelings like this cast themselves
in duration with you,
testing depth.

Pull in close and vape

my sweat. It seeps through
and foams down our frames
displaying the axis of
our exertion. I’m pinned at the centre of
your flayed joint. We handle joints like stepping stones,
to move land and lock
our bodies as one.

Branching down

I need you so I can make my way

Two breathy syncopated things, poised lines bent to clenched lobes. I release you in a syrupy action. The sensations we're sustaining leave scaled impressions; tooth marks, pinched things, the quiver of high pitch, but the muscles of our notes are perpetually flexed so tones are felt as warm bass.


I move then you see, one being shoved along. Telescoping

my pause, topping my spine. I palm your nape, meet resistance and feather back absorbing you.
This rest of me, in submission, is laid out belly skywards
and yours breathes down into mine.

No longer bone, made of tissues hungry for marrow,

organs that root through vibration, squeezing
fruits that release more juice than we thought their shapes could carry,
into harvest
we cut through mood.


We move in stills.

You and me appear to hum, to hold
the quality and position of we, something in flight,
opening and closing like time lapse imagery, pixels about to land.

Inside this refrain I kind of want you, but you’re busy at my edges and we need to be superficial for one another. I want you to feel me, hot, a sequencing of desire. I whisper to you, where are we heading? Down there between us, in sheets across skin, the whisper wriggles.


Against the immovable show space and in the circle of our friendship, as capacities begin and end, I want to hurt you, hug you, do mundane things with you, objectify you while I locate


My spine combs you, still.







Image: Jacqui Shelton