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Red cheeked
the breeze tickles her back
soft as a careless whisper.
Her mouth is caramelised fig and salt tang
and she wears seaweed in her hair.
From the shore the waves roar, weaponised teal, flashing bright
and the sky is purple haze
(as speckled as her nails, buried in the sand
fingertips deep in the cool moistness of the earth.)
She communes with the crabs, albino and soft shelled
as they scuttle into sand-tubes
and hide amongst the spinifex.
As the tide recedes she pries out pippis and splits them
sucking out juices with her scaled tongue
and hurling their smoked shells back into the sea.

And she waits.

The pregnant moon rises soft
and the world is still
for three heartbeats (one two)
(three). Then
her lover comes (ethereal as a spirit)
and the waters roil, waves gouging.
When her lover comes (dusk bathed, storm-woman)
the crabs flee deep into the dunes and
as finally
she steps silent from the sky onto sand
she licks the salt from the hollow of her throat
smiles through red lips
and kisses the sparrows in her hair.

Hester J. Rook is a Rhysling Award and Australian Shadows Award shortlisted poet and co-editor of Twisted Moon Magazine.  They are often found salt-scrunched on beaches, reading arcane tales and losing the moon in mugs of tea. Find Hester on Twitter @hesterjrook and read more poems and fiction at
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20 May 2024

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