Crocodile (1st prize: 2017 competition)

I know how I will die then
in a death roll scales to my
cheek claws sunk into my pale
shoulders water burning my
throat like whiskey the
uncountable rows of yellowed
teeth ringing my scalp and
in the heat of the thrashing
river he will press his white
rawness into me like that man
who held me from behind
when I didn’t know sex and
gripped my mouth like a muzzle
and unsheathed his anger
stubble grazing my neck see
I have died already and somehow
survived hauled myself up from
the river mud to taste blue air
though I was not the same I
was carrion bleeding into the silt
and didn’t I wear those wounds
well pity me the boy who cried
crocodile I have these moments when I
know I wanted it asked for it even
to be special to be scarred
wading along the river bank feet
in the brown flow flirting with
wildness the green violence in the
shallows and I know he is swimming
back to me his horned body slipping
through sediment and weed for
nothing ever really heals he can
smell the red meat of me
bait lighting up the river

– Richard Scott