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The Traitor

On the shore, I build a man from wire and rocks.

I wrap copper wire around a blue barrel.
I lift the barrel out. This copper cavity becomes his chest.

Drift wood, the only piece on the beach, becomes the cast of his arm.
I slide the grey wood from its wire nest, start again.

My right leg becomes his right leg.
I loosen the copper; take it off, start again.

I tie these parts together,
wire shut the wrists and ankles.

I use heavy rocks to fill the empty space of his legs;
pile large shells into his arms.

I fill his chest with eelgrass and feathers;
a skipping stone, just bigger than gaps in the crossed wire,

I place inside for his heart.
To close all of it into his torso, and keep it there,

a hundred single strands of copper
run from scapula to clavicle. At low tide,

I walk him to the end of the rock jetty,
and with both of us pointed outwards,

I leave him at the edge of the ocean.
When the waves move back,

eel grass will reach from the cage
towards the light. After years of this reclamation,

the man will have moved
a few yards into the sea.


Cutter Streeby holds a Master’s in poetry from the University of East Anglia. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize this year, he was most recently featured at The White Review (UK), World Literature Today, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Cincinnati Review. He is a lecturer at Assumption University in Bangkok, and the founder of the first journal for translation across mediums: VerseJunkies.com.