monster boys need love too (or The Terror of Clay Creek)

What if I
told you I
got inside a
crustacean,
just laid
myself low
down in the
silt of the
riverbed
and waited,
facedown and
fecund a second,
an hour, a year,
a half a lifetime
(while you
weaned,
preened
and primed),
down in it I
turn half
to slime
and suckerfish
until a skiff-long
shadow looms
in waters above
and the greatest
crayfish of these
channel-ways
lays down
on me to die,
old and full
of years,
Grandcrawdad,
and my skeleton
fuses to his
guts and his
exoskeleton
becomes my
skin: I’m within.

The great crawdad,
crayfish, and I
begin to rise,
black eyes bright
and big claws
clacking,
there’s no
backing out
now that I’ve
backed
into this and
up the bank,
shell shining
wet, streaming
rivulets
all down the
armour-plated
concatenated
length of me,
of we,
Crawdad Spirit
and
Suckerfish I.

And these days
a big-brained
crustacean
has been
sighted in
your rivers,
on your banks,
even outside
the windows of
riverside homes,
families frighted
by the sound of
incidental
antenna-tap
on glass,
a horrible face
looking in and
leaving as if
searching for
someone not
found in any
of the many
homes haunted,
the creature
roving now
inland and
drying, some
say dying,
great claws
rasping the
ground as if
dejected, and
a keening
cry in the night
none hear
without fear
and a feel
of some
unaccountable
sorrow.

And I hear
hissed rumours
of the existence of
monster-sympathisers
wondering
how such a thing
came to be
and what It wants
(shamed and
bad-named,
these curious
are branded
ontologists),
‘What does It
want?’ they wonder,
and I wonder
whether you
are one of them,
the sympathisers,
whether you maybe
just maybe
feel sorry for
The Crayfish Man.

And here,
here at last,
here I see,
finally, you,
hair, as ever,
spilling down and
silver-streaked
now, your skin
like earth, tilled
and tamped,
more beautiful
than ever.

My claws cease
their dry-clacking
through the tall
grass and the
concatenated
dry-length of
me, of we,
shudders and
the great
ghost of my
crayfish host
lifts away
and is gone,
leaving you
and I alone
with unspoken
thoughts and
unreadable
glances, I of
double the
body and half
the spirit, limbs
unliftable, in
need of
submersion and
extrication both,
and you,
whoever and
whatever you
now are.

(What if I
told you I
got inside a
crustacean,
would you
take me back?)

Image

 

(photo by Flannery O’Kafka)

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