The Things She Finds in the Dark Places by Hester J. Rook

Swamp bound, webbed fingers deep in the mud the mangroves rear about him.

One wrist speared on a root, green blood

pearls and

washes down oystered skin.

One lick; his blood tastes of ocean and sand.

Cut free, his wail is a battle cry.  His claws run rivets down my cheek, red salt mixed with green.

And my laughter thrills with joy.

I carry him bundled like a child, like a lost seathing, like driftwood and shell shards.

I carry him through bushrock and paperbark, moon flooded.  The path is bright with banksia – explosions of red in the gloom.

Enthroned far from ocean, his voice fades.

I bring pippis from the seaside, licked clean of salt.  I slide them down his throat and his voice hollows.

By the roaring campfire lick his skin shrivels, tightens, grows stretched and translucent.

I can see the soft thrum of his heart under his ribs.  His voice shatters,

falls from roar to Echo’s whisper, cracked and broken.

But when the moon is bright – bright and full like werewolf moons

(a moon for lunacy) I shuck oysters into the dirt and he sings

like wildfire.


Originally published in Concrete Queers 7: Speculative Fiction

Hester J. Rook | they/them
Hester J. Rook is a Rhysling Award and Australian Shadows Award shortlisted poet and co-editor of Twisted Moon Magazine. They are often found salt-scrunched on beaches, reading arcane tales and losing the moon in mugs of tea. Find Hester on Twitter @hesterjrook and read more poems and fiction at

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