Monstering

Disabled Women and Nonbinary People Celebrating Monsterhood

Washed Up

What the old witch didn't tell you,
with all her sophistries and potions—
it's not just as simple as adding legs.

She unravelled you, down to your bare thread,
and now you are something new.
Broken down. Rewritten.

No more scars. No more memories
lingering in the space between scales and bone.
You are soft as a newborn.

Take your first stumbling steps
and be glad. The ground has claimed you.
The flint beneath your feet is kindness—
the thistles, respect.

You will learn breezes, birdsong,
the heat of the sun. You will learn rivers,
see how water slows and thickens.

Everything reminds you of the sea.
Salt winds lick you. Gulls
bring a flash of memory
and then wheel on.

You persevere. Move inland.
The blackthorn hedges
flower into foam.

Delirious, you recall your tail.

They find you—
unconscious, sopping wet— 
in a stagnant cattle-trough.

You wake up wound in cotton
like wind-lashed sails: you rip and twist.
A rumble of boots; a surrounded bed.

Your clicks and screeching go unanswered.
Their alien voices coo and sigh
as you stare, sobbing, at your strange toes
and slick your cheeks with salt.

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A portrait shot of a person with long dark hair, light skin, and heavy green eyeliner, who is smiling slightly. They are wearing antlers and a crown of ivy, and a red and gold patterned top.

A portrait shot of a person with long dark hair, light skin, and heavy green eyeliner, who is smiling slightly. They are wearing antlers and a crown of ivy, and a red and gold patterned top.

HEL ROBIN GURNEY is a poet, performer, writer, and escaped academic. They are fascinated with myth, memory, and monstrosity—whether voicing Sycorax's last curse to Prospero, eulogising Jacobean cross-dresser Moll Cutpurse, or collaging a bilingual soundscape from the memories of a 10th-century book. The poem "Washed Up", published in this issue of Monstering, was the starting point for Gurney's poetry and storytelling project "Red Hoods and Glass Slippers", chapter one of which appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016 as spoken word solo show "The Sleeping Princess". Other recent credits include the audiovisual collaboration "Wild Winter" (2017, with Ash Welch) and the libretto for experimental opera "The Lion-Faced Man" (Tête à Tête Festival 2015, with composer CN Lester). Hel Robin can be found at helgurney.wordpress.com, or wandering around the south of England.