Kagewani, by Betsy Aoki

When I pole my boat off the shoals I see her:
wavering, rip-step, shadow of arms.
I can pierce her with a thought.
I trail her off my broad back, I drag her body—
slim as it is, made of air and memory as it is—
across the shallows as I turn the craft about.
Her open mouth eats up the depths
of my shadow and my ruthlessness
like they were nothing, her dark teeth
grinding shells and sand under her gums.
Her throat is an anti-shimmer, an ache
in the water, a mine that ends deep
below where light can go. The lighthouse
sends its low moan into the night, and its long-backed shadow
to meet her where she lives. How fear of her
hangs from me, upon me, like tatters of light lost.
When we meet at last in death, she will eat.
But only I will swallow.

Betsy Aoki is a poet, game producer and speculative fiction writer whose work has been published in Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Fireside Magazine and The Deadlands. Her debut poetry collection, Breakpoint, was a National Poetry Series Finalist and winner of the Patricia Bibby First Book Award.

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