Swamp bound, webbed fingers deep in the mud the mangroves rear about him.
One wrist speared on a root, green blood
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
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 hesterjrook.com.