Twice upon a time my fluid mother born of water
said no and no to my poor father living with sheep:
all rivers screamed like Munch’s blue-black fjords
and the lambs’ tongues twisted towards the orange sky.
I was a product of an inter-terrestrial marriage, pasture-
blood. Animals hated me, especially sheep, and rivers
bullied me as they branched from Mother’s mouth.
A career in wool and tributaries wasn’t meant for me.
It was an age before student loans and university
so I studied a tree a day, a moth a night, and slept under
the Milky Way. Nature taught me sex and killing.
To kill time, I bulked up on protein and trained hard
to perfect leanness. Wind loved flirting with my abs;
the smooth undulations tickled a monsoon and changed
her direction. One day, under an ash I saw two snakes
making love, a double-helix spasm like aliens
kissing and swallowing each other. It was gross.
I struck them hard with a stick until they separated.
Something happened to my penis. It quickly folded
inward before unfolding inside out into a clitoris.
Seven autumns passed. Nobody cared how I breathed
in as a male, out a female. One day, under an oak
I saw two snakes making love and I hit them again.
My clitoris lengthened into Pinocchio’s nose.
I’d forgotten how it felt to be testicular. A sickle
of thunder. Two voices, man and wife, argued
cumulonimbusly about winning and losing,
umpires and justice. As their words thickened
into rain, specks of sand and armies of spider legs
swarmed inside my vitreous humour. Lightning
flashed in my brain. The curtains closed. Night
finally sealed my eyes and time came at me
on a rampage: a king searching for a killer,
a sea-torn son risking the underworld to talk
to his dead mother. The rest was future: sky-
scrapers in Antarctica, life on Mars… I saw bionic
eyes fitted to reconstructed retinas, as millions
of zebrafish licked the dormant stem cells back to life.
A family of red ochre handprints lit up in a cave:
their finger-petals reminded me of mulberry.