From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

CHOSEN ONES

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Fiction

like the gator loves the snake

sunlight on marshgrass, winter-brown and alive
with flocks of nesting birds, flash of white feathers
when the wind blows. i think of the boy and then
drown the thought. the tide lifts small fishes
and my own mud-drunk body, slow roll of muscle,
scales touched by currents that pull north
and pull south. sweet clean air when i break
the surface, hair fanned out like a jelly’s hood.
my teeth ache. i touch my tongue to their ripping
edge, finding here and there the tissues
and small fibers that walk behind my hunger.
the cold wraps my mind in cordroot and rot,
and still i think: the boy. clouds. no rain.
at twilight the pontoon struggles upstream.
he has a net, a hook, a gig, a gun. he has
beautiful fingers, long and fragile, like the ribs
of a heron. he has a mouth and a throat and
a heart i can hear from the pluff, loud
as a bullfrog, dancing in his chest, fluttering,
like a little mummichog you catch in your fist.
he leans his face over the side, all that fine skin
stretched over the planes of his skull. i flex
the muscle of my tongue against the hull
of his boat, licking up salt, and when the gig
strikes the water i snatch and yank
and drag him into the marsh with the turtles
and the cottonmouths and me.
blood-hot. thrashing prey. smell like
good things to eat, soft and mild, flesh
for tearing from slick white bone. my belly says:
consume. my thoughts say: the boy.
i do not move. i hang in the murk, a dead
thing, a stone, watching him haul his tender
body away into the air. the motor yowls.
i snap my jaws in fury, ravenous, impotent,
and let the thick night swallow him alive.

Maria Zoccola

Maria Zoccola is a Southern writer with deep roots in the Mississippi Delta. She has writing degrees from Emory University and Falmouth University. Her speculative work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, DreamForge, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her literary work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in 32 Poems, The Massachusetts Review, Colorado Review, Spillway, Southern Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She is a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.