From “Grendel was really a woman”

by Feng

The second time he breached the surface
it was still night.
Stars made him dizzy.

He did not notice how his new limbs hurt because everything did. The little needles of white
and the combustion of air, everything flying apart from everything else.

He cried from every pore of his body. He felt his throat, which was bloated
with dead larynx, and the new spaces of his body, the hollow in his head,

the negative between his new legs: these were silent and deadly. Grendel could only think
of the young sailor with large black eyes. (I am in love. Now I will find
my eternal place)

Around his body he wrapped his thick, oily hair. It was cold. For the first time,
he began to thirst. The sky throbbed. Grendel thirsted.

He slept in a small cave by the shore and thirsted.

One morning, there was a whale
beached on the far end of the island. It was large with vibrating. Grendel reached out
and touched the rubbery skin
around its one exposed eye.
(I know you) he said voicelessly.

Its whale eye stared, spiced with sand. (You cannot speak), Grendel continued.
Two silences traveled and made interference waves. Little sparks
floated from the island.

Grendel wanted to save her, but in his heart a hunger
told him to keep her. In a way, he knew, that was rescue. (Come,) he mouthed. His new legs
which hurt like walking on carnivorous stones
were powerful enough to carry the whale back
into the stone alcove into the secret lake
and he named the whale
and called her Polyphemus.

(no one will know you’re here), Grendel meant.
The whale was exhausted and lay on her side in the shallow water. One eye
facing stone heaven.


feng chen


image by enyala