Poetry by Rachel Burn & Art by Arizona Smith

Cucumber

I just need to say…
that vibrators don’t make me cum. 
I spent £90 in lockdown
and toy-related orgasms? None. 

I find them too plastic, too blatant, too bold,
too purposeful, no nuance, not the fun I’ve been told. 
The vibes of the toys make everything buzz,
incoherently though, 
like white-noise fuzz.

What gets me over is precision, and push,
clarity through nerves, through skin-lips, through bush. 

Give me a cucumber
 – you think that’s a joke – 
and yes I am veggie, 
I’m not sure about ‘woke’.
I’m plant-based and hairy
mostly avoid dairy,
could get 200 cucumbers 
for that price when broke! 

It took me time to be able to play with myself
(and even more with veg from the supermarket shelf)
cos I was raised as a follower of Christ, you see,
and we Love Sex! we Hate Sex! we Love Sex- to be
saved exclusively for marriage – a sacred space,
that’s mutual, respectful and hermetically safe.
But to keep it til then is a mighty old job
of restriction, denial and having to rob
yourself of your God-given, natural desires
to fiddle, and tickle, and stroke out and rub…
to wiggle and press and tap at and poke
to plunge in and circle and moisten and stroke-
oh I said that already, I don’t care, it still works,
and enough of it maybe leads to a squirt – 
maybe beat at or pump if you identify as bloke
(or person with penis, see earlier comment re ‘woke’).

Some of you might be thinking:
‘but solo’s not sex
is that not allowed? even though it affects
no soul but your own?!’
And I hear your confusion,
it’s to do with a verse that comes from Ephesians
that says ‘let there not be even a hint
of sexual immorality’-
so getting turned on’s a sin. 
Indulging a crush, getting involved in a snog.
getting hot, a bit flustered, noticing you’ve a throb…
so Shut that!
Deny that!
Turn your face towards God!
He’ll ‘forgive’ you and ‘heal’ you,
grant you holy reward of relationship with Him.
And I’m simplifying here…
…but I didn’t start playing til my 21st year.
And I’ve enjoyed and explored my body since then.
But a message I received from Evangelical men,
one pastor in particular, who spoke to a group, who sat on the floor,
teenagers who only wanted to explore
themselves in and out, with sincerity and truth,
was that ‘The World’ doesn’t think of sex ‘right’,
but ‘only’ like hunger, no more than an appetite. 

Hmm…

‘No more’ than this instinct that keeps me alive?
by letting me know I need food to survive?
‘no more’ than this wisdom-ful body of flesh?
that heals and repairs, enables work and then rest?

And I get it, 
that pizza
and burger
and chips
and muffins
and hobnobs
and cheesecake 
and dips
aren’t the best foods for us, not great for our health
– I’m an advocate for raw nutritional wealth,
and I eat lentils
(and I’ve piety there)
and raw fruit, raw veg
cos, like you, I care about my body and mind
and I know they’re affected
in the weeks I eat plain pasta and donuts injected
with custard.

So I see what he means…

…and perhaps if his diet was based in raw veg
he’d recognise his hunger as a sharp learning edge…

So to the pastor who told me,
that earnest young girl,
that sex was no more than an appetite
 – as though that was wrong – 
try a cucumber,
my fanny’s favourite hunger
stick it in you, I dare you, you’ll have fun.

Rachel Burn is trained as a dancer in London and New York with the Cunningham Company and has choreographed, performed and taught at universities around the UK and in India. She is now a therapist who draws richly on her dance training. She has always written poetry to amuse herself, friends and family. IG: @rachel_in_the_making.

Arizona Smith is a British self taught artist/illustrator/storyteller, based on London, with a passion for community projects, dream, and especially women in magic. She is also OyeDrum’s sister-witch illustrator. IG: @arizonathecat