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[Poetry] Five Poems by Kathryn Reese




on your skin.

You weren’t after new ink,

you’ve already turned your ex’s initial

into a bird in flight, feathers scattered

down your arm. Sketch me, a hermit crab

lodging in a home never my own. Me, concealed

in a spiral of pigmented calcium carbonate

for our protection.

For my protection.

A spiral of pigmented calcium carbonate

conceals: home is never my own. I’m lodged in

a hermit crab sketch on your arm.

Scattered feathers. A bird took flight,

returned to your ex’s initial

ink. You weren’t after

new skin.


The gulf on a dodge tide.

Is this the sanctuary you seek?

A shore of sharp edges:

seashell, crab, splintered bone.

A sheol of invertebrates.

A feast of squirm and scuttle—

transparent husk, red veins, dark guts.

A sea too shallow for the monster cuttlefish you dreamed.

Flock and dapple the waters edge, dredge—

Bathe your wounds, iodine

black in the kelp and krill:

Is there no solace without salt?

A glut of lice and driftwood

and you lie, quivering on the mud?

Are there not enough feathers here scattered,

shafts plucked clean by the turbulence of sand?

Make your nest inland. Find any twisted mallee,

any stand of knotted roadside grass.

Build sandhills in the guttergrime and content yourself with that.

You have no need of shoaling.

You have no need of another’s breast-bone pressed into your wing.

You have no need of another’s beak, pressing fermented mullet into your own squalling maw.


Sit with the hollow of your bones.

Sit with your tattered wings, your transparent squirm.

Watch the tide ebb, and ebb and flow.

I didn’t intend to become the ocean—

just a raindrop to nestle in her hair. Yet gravity and the moon conspired and drew me deeper: creek stream, river shattered over the cliffs, lake—and now—I am murky depths, confused currents and filthy foam spit, laden with salt rising to whip and burn. Fury and greed, I lust after the earth, I would take her in my arms, my mouth, I would swallow her, I would endlessly caress her edges— Oh my love. I can keep your nightmares safe, welcome your monsters into my belly, my caves, resplendent with ancient treasure and soft-edged glass the color of the forests. Let me nurture your small transparent jelly-offspring with algae-crumbs pulled from the path of moonlight, nurture them til they grow chitin armor or cuttle-bone and tentacles, til they are ready for the ravages of rock and air. When they are ready I will kiss them each and remind them: i am eternal for your returning.

At the sunrise I will open myself to yellow and gold, I will open my ears to the cry of the silvergull, the osprey, the keening allocasuarina. They will tell me, sing to me of you and I will drink my fill of liquid song and cry soft mist to find you. When it is quiet in the evening, allow yourself to hear my breath: rhythmic i rise and fall away—in the depth of the silence between, know what my absence would be: for there is a desert where I am but crushed shell and baked salt, pink with iron-stained tears.

Ubajee Lookout

There are no wolves here so my son makes them up, makes us up into a pack, Nominates an alpha. I want to be the cub!—but then I won’t be able to lead. If I follow him, we will likely migrate. Follow some rabbit trail that takes us to the moon.

The moon! he echoes, yellow eyes already tracing trajectories, an instinctive trigonometry ofastrological contour lines. If we were on the moon, what would inspire our howl?

Don’t howl now, the sun is still up, wolves live like shadows amongst the trees. We hide behind the grass tree while hikers pass. They are geared up, matching khaki, compasses and maps in clear weatherproof pockets. My son and I in just our sleek summer coats with an idea that at the bottom of the gully there should be a stream, the stream should run to the ocean, and the ocean will birth the sun, and we will call that place East.

When we find the creek, will there be snacks? I tell him we will hunt fish in the stream, catch them in our mouths as they leap. Rainbow sashimi. There are no salmon in this stream, only glistening dreams to be caught in our bare teeth, and savored.

A Date At The Market

with a sushi chef from Moonta Bay: locks, nose-ring and seal-round eyes. She bought herself adecaf latte and you a cappuccino. Instead of raising the cup to your lip you plunge your spoon,twist, scoop froth, submerge again. She talks of single origin but all you can think about is foam,the way it mounds and crescents and how would it be, to be with her? All rising and ebbing tides, quiet in the shelter between peninsulae? Or surf coast, an open ocean hunt? What sort of creature do you find yourself to be—have you grown fat and fur? If you are in your scales beware—this ends with your salmon flesh translucent against her knife.

Kathryn Reese lives in South Australia. She works in medical science. Her writing explores themes of nature, myth and the possibility of shape shift. Her poems are published in Neoperennial Press’s “Heroines” Anthology, Paperbark, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Yellow Arrow Journal. You can find her on Instagram @katwhetter and on Twitter @KathrynRwReese


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