Snake Wife

Amy Lawless

When he squared her in the sights,
did she slither? Did her tongue diverge?
Did she treble that sensational s sound so
he mistook her for a snake?
Or maybe she moved into the space
from which snakes slithered.
An honest mistake. Honest as the home they made.
Honest as the virtues of a serpent: she can get where
she’s going without walking or swimming or crawling.
The will to get from point A to point B on her belly skin
is aspirational, metaphysical, and with the right academic article
on reptile motion, perfectly explainable.
To the naked eye it’s magic to overcome
the desire of movement into a I’ll get there on my own.

It’s annoying how self-
sufficient I am. So when I ask for help
bleeding atop my home, mistaken for a snake, or whatever
this is—I really do need help.
And my children—my children will always come running
when they hear me play. Come running until their old bodies break.
My babies will come running when they hear my super natural, sustained
solo. A sound elegant as a swan
gliding across the lake.

Amy Lawless headshotAmy Lawless is the author of the poetry books My Dead and Broadax, both from Octopus Books. She lives in Brooklyn.