Loving the Alien

Scales sliding over her heel wake her.
She springs to her feet, the snake scarpers.
The stars are molten silver chrysanthemums,

grains of light on the liquid mirrors of her eyes, widening under heavy, hominid brows.
Silent steps take her out of the fire’s

ring, past the snoring males,
to the place where the bright thing drops
from the sky. Strange seed

finds a ready bed in her belly, inscribing
new characters on the spirals of her genes.
Women have always mated with monsters.

We’ve worked it out with the serpent: all those
supernatural bridegrooms, demon lovers,
angelic impregnations, animal husbands.

We’ve been trying to trade up, seeking the fortunate mutation, bringing the candle close
to the demigods dozing in our beds, keeping

our hold on fairymen who transform into stags in our arms. We see gold under the fur of bears and virtue in the heart of the outcast beast.
The double helix is an alliance
between the woman and the dragon.
He lays his head at our feet.
Coded coils wind through our bodies and

trigger the next, necessary freak, at least
until the waxing of those
weapon-waving warriors
who want to keep us peripheral and weak.

I would pass these parts to you,
my daughters:
to see in the dark, to breathe underwater.
Open the files left in your cells
by those long-ago women who lay
with bird-headed men and
the Kings of the Fishes.
Let the feathered orbs of their eyes bestow
night vision, a different prism
in your iris, to see through

to the bones of things, without light’s
beguiling ornaments. Let gills open in your throat when you need them. No matter how
deep and dark it gets, you will not drown.

There are texts in our flesh yet to be read.
Don’t be afraid to open them.



Love in the Time of Psylocibin

After several millennia I leave my
wonderful new home in the bathroom
the friends I have found
among the floor slates
and the fluorescent extravaganza
going on out the window
and make my way to the bed.
Three centuries of laughter later
our aching ribs shake themselves still.
The shirts dancing on their hangers dissolve
the bed melts
the ticking clock does a Dali
then ripples into liquid that
laps at our ankles in invitation.

When we close our eyes
dry mammal pelts peel away.
Our lips are marine creatures mating
my head spreads like an anemone
my breasts are sea urchins
opening and closing with slow tidal breaths
and you are all serpentine worms
in a forest of kelp.
At last we are swimming in the same sea
tentacles entwined
no longer you, no longer me.
We tumble further back into primordial water
drifting in the brine of creation
amoeba on the brink of becoming.
Nebula reflect on the face of the deep
salt liquid is charged by the stars.
We spiral into metamorphosis
like shark eggs emerging
trawling back up through
a million marine mutations.
Translucent flukes fan over iridescent scales.
Your pulse pumps in the chambers
of my nautilus.
Fins of silver stroke sea snake skin
patterns emerge on my limbs
and I am a starfish
until there’s a knock on the door
and your eyes spring open on the
spread pentacle of a lanky woman.
I surface, blinking, to find my legs
beside a hairy guy who’s doing his best.
We hold our breath.
We know that if we answer it
we’ll laugh ourselves to death.
The bed is dry.
We lie quietly while the room solidifies.
Blood surges in warm waves through the
miraculous sleeves we have
slipped back inside
these human bodies
old enough to know better
hiding in silence from
the caller at the door.



The Winter of our Disco Tent

Tonight the year traverses the
lowest degrees of its circle.
White, icy light summons me outside.
Trees stand mesmerised by the moon
the still frosty air condenses in
beads of mercury
silvering twigs and branches.

The only sound is the one that
rings within me
singing high and cold in my ears.
My head is a crystal glass and some
restless finger circles its rim.
Everything holds its breath
waiting for the midnight click
the shiver in the year that
electrifies this forest.

A current snakes through the earth
and jolts me forward.
Shocks splinter up my legs and spray in
sparks from my fingernails.
The tireless soprano inside my skull
is underpinned by a rhythm.
I move towards it.

Breath coils between the evergreens
like dry ice
moonbeams ripple through the ground mist
lunar lasers weaving phantoms
around my knees.
Stumps ripped by lightning
splay charcoal hearts
bright filaments dance over their scars.

Something hangs in the trees
staring out of the needles and leaves
the strained faces of men
mouths drawn, as if the greenery
wreathing them is too much to swallow.

Shadows race on bark and light flickers
over their brows and chins.
Eyes close as their faces flush
and they crumple to the ground
gasping for breath through the mess of leaves
and stems that entangle them.

Trunks unseam and something slides
through these luminous slits
the women who’ve hidden there since Eden.
They carry the golden bowls we
thought were lost
tilting them to the lips of the men.
All of them rise like saplings
and we move with the thumping pulse
to the glade of the tent
a crimson pavilion with translucent walls
glistening and warm.
Vermillion cords tighten around
stakes of bone
shaking in time to a bass note low enough
to change our brains.
We enter the tent together.



Christine Strelan_AUTHORPHOTO

Christine Strelan lives in the forest near Nimbin in New South Wales. She has been writing and making collages all her life.

Cover Photo Credit: Kylie Supski