Their numbers rose as the oceans reclaimed
lands that were closest to its wet borders.
The reports—initially laughed at in the cities—
first came from rural coastal towns.
Women giving birth
to twins: one human, one fish.
As the infant survived, its fish-twin vanished,
never to be seen again. Some said
they died, unable to breathe on land,
some whispered they were killed and
buried in shame—no story’s the same.
Midwives and physicians were baffled, then
became dismissive. Mass hysteria,
someone in authority opined.
It didn’t take long for someone to record and upload
something on social media. The grainy and shaky
video managed to show something tubular
and gray slip from the old hilot’s* hands
into a basin of water.
The mother’s screams rang like bells.
A man stormed into the room,
shouted at the person holding the camera
and grabbed it, ending the footage.
The internet went ablaze. No one was
laughing anymore. A public health crisis
declared, experts and epidemiologists
worked to make sense of the phenomena
but found no answers.
As more islands sank beneath the waves more
women delivered twins of human and fish.
People’s violent reactions simmered
into nonchalance—as always—except for
the few times when the fish survived
instead of the infant. Coastal villages
moved inland as the ocean swallowed
their homes. The elder folk declared
This was just nature trying to check
and restore balance.
“We all clambered from the sea,”
one said with confidence.
“And that’s where we’re all going back—
Sooner or later.”
Weeks later, a fisherman was arrested for
his daughter’s disappearance. The child
had been sick a few days. The mother
went to a relative to borrow money
for medicine, leaving the toddler in
her husband’s care.
He was crying on the beach when she returned.
Distraught, he said his daughter suddenly
stopped breathing and as he held her up
her neck opened up like fish-gills.
By instinct, he took her to the water, which
revived her instantly, and she quickly swam
away, as her rumored twin-fish sister did
barely two years ago.
*Hilot – traditional birth attendants in Philippine rural communities
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones