crawl out of the water. i want to see you
covered in sphagnum and algae, you
long-hair swamp-rat creature, you
live in the river. and there is a body
inside of me that is not my body.
it is everything i am reflected in the murk, 
mirroring something stagnant
until i can’t tell what is left
or what is right or if 
i’m stuck somewhere between.
like me, you are hungry. 
it has been days since you tasted
anything real. my fear becomes a heron 
with me always, playing alive  
some place impossibly high and fragile. 
behind you, he follows me everywhere
and with each dewy-eyed glance i wonder
who he is. someone i know,
knobby knees legging towards the water 
or towards all of the things in water
that are larger than water. the rot
of things, green and pulling and waiting.
i catch your dead gaze and molt 
my feathers, coming unhinged 
to tell the body (the body under my body)
that i’m sorry for not knowing
what it was – a chance,
wings beating and gone
as soon as we touch. 

previously published in the Hecate BIRTH anthology (June, 2021)

Madeline Augusta Turner is a cosmic cowgirl and place-based storyteller who lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her writing is shaped by her ever-growing community and her life at the intersection of industrial decay and endless cornfields. She graduated from Smith College in 2021 and currently works as a waitress at a historic New England diner. Her work can be found in DEAR Poetry Journal, Hecate, Rejection Letters, Stone of Madness, and others. Say hello on Instagram @madelineaugusta or on Twitter @soilslut and check-in anytime at

photo by Morgane Perraud (via unsplash)