Cotton Xenomorph is a new literary journal produced with the mission to showcase new, and ecstatic art while reducing language of oppression in our community. We are dedicated to uplifting new and established voices while engaging in thoughtful conversation around social justice.

Ars Poetica With A Panther

By Sage

You are on an island, far from anyone or any-when
or anywhere. After living here a while you forget
your life before the island, and stop thinking about
your life after the island. There is nothing but the sea
and the sand and the waves breaking at your feet and
the grassy hills and the palm trees and the date fruits
you gather and the fish and boar you hunt.
You’re a real wild-man now. You’re a real hunter-gatherer,
civilization doesn’t do it for you anymore. You wear
skirts of woven leaves and throw spears of pumice
stone. There’s a simmering volcano you use to roast
the boars. There’s a spring of crystal water that runs
out towards the shore. Where the salt- and freshwater
meet is where you fish and solo dance your prayers
to the moon. You have befriended the lonely panther
who used to stalk you on your hunting trips into dense
jungle brush. You cover yourself in mud and pig fat
to mask your scent. How horrible you are in your
natural state, your return to animal. How lovingly
created you were to eat canned meats and processed
juice and now you’ve betrayed it all to climb back
into trees and nest with macaws and howl at the sky
with the wolves. How beautiful you look to the lake
when you peer into its black depths and a stranger
is looking back. You know every trunk and stump
and blade of grass. On a hunting trip with your big-cat
familiar you find a box at the islands’ heart. Inside
you know you will find anything you can imagine.
You do not hesitate. There are no thoughts of conjuring
your loved one back from the far side of the veil.
There is no desire to be plucked from the island
and placed back into the world you left to come here.
You dive in head-first. You know every part of it above.
You want to know its roots, its depths. You want
to hear the tremors below the solid face. You want
to touch the mountain, lifting the island out of the sea.

Sage studies poetry at Elms College, where they have also been awarded the Blue House fellowship. Their poetry appears/will appear in figroot press, Five:2:One, Glass: A Journal of PoetryNorth American Review, Penn Review,Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Short fiction forthcoming from The Binnacle. They can be found on Twitter @sagescrittore.


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