Moon Wrasse

Willo Drummond

“Moon Wrasse” forms part of my PhD research into The Extended Mind and creative writing practice. Extended Mind style arguments frame words as material vehicles with which we engage in bodily acts of manipulation constitutive of cognition. “In constructing a poem” writes Andy Clark, “we do not simply use words to express thoughts. Rather it is often the properties of the words (their structure and cadence) that determine the thoughts that the poem comes to express” (Being There, 208).

The poem emerges from an attempt to write the unknowable-unsayable (Hetherington, Sotto, September 2013). Although there is an increasing amount of literature on the Trans* experience, there remains little on the experience of trans-partners, particularly on the experience of lesbian/bi/queer partners who now find their identity redefined, rewritten. In the liminal space of transition, it can take time to find the words to frame the experience of arrival.  Attempts are made and abandoned in the notebook: it seems the experience can neither be spoke nor sung. How do you speak your experience of an emerging masculinity that is not your own? Eventually however, lines accrete, ‘meaning’ coheres: words offer up a “language-bridge” (Hetherington), and a poem (like a partner) is born.


Gender; Sexuality; Queer; Femme-Butch; Masculinity

Full text


You are

My Blue Moon


New born

Barely imagined being[ii]


I see you

With a new lucency—

Clear as the blue

Of your new man suit

Sweet as the sky

True as day


Back and forth

You carve

This place of ours


A persistent insistence

On incessant activity—

You always loved

To dance

                Some things change, some stay the same



You are

         Forming, transforming

Twinkling your webbed toes

Shaking your tail

Crescent. Lyre-wrasse


We cycle

Through the dappled light

Of the casuarina—

Holding hands

Like younger lovers

In a film

In a dream


All is calm and comfort

Here, moving in

Our translucent


‘Self-made’ and safe

As houses—

Or as a fresh made pair

Of parrot fish



[i] The Moon Wrasse (Thalassoma lunare), also known as the Blue Wrasse, Crescent Wrasse and Lyretail Wrasse, among other names, undergoes a female-to-male (FTM) transition in mid-life, a phenomenon (known as protogyny) also undergone by the Parrot Fish.

[ii] With acknowledgement to (in order of italicised appearance): Caspar Henderson, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013);  Meg Keene, “Hymn to Her”, recorded by The Pretenders, Get Close , Warner Music, CD, LP, 1986;  Denise Levertov, “Web”, in Earth Shattering: Ecopoems, ed., Neil Astley (Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2007), 157.

[iii] “Finally, there are the pajamas”: “Parrot Fish”, National Geographic, accessed 18 November, 2015,

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