Snakes

By Eileen Myles Eileen Myles

         for Kathe Izzo

I was 6 and
I lost my snake.
 
The table shook
I can do better
than this
and shambled
to the kitchen
to the scene
of the crime
 
I was green
I put my sneaker
down, little shoe
 
I felt the cold
metal tap
my calf
 
moo and everything
began to change.
I am 6
turned into lightning
wrote on the night
 
At 6, I was feathers
scales, I fell into
the slime of it, lit
 
You think you are six,
it yelled. I am face
to face with a frog
a woman alone
in bed. The square
of the window
persists. I am 6.
 
The phone rings
It’s my sister
blamm I dropped
a plate. Sorry.
 
Now the clouds slide           
by afraid, awake
my feet are cold
but I’m fearless
 
I am 6.
 
Under here
with bottle caps
and stars
adults and low
moans, busses
 
slamming on brakes
I am 6
 
the cake is lit
it’s round
the children
sing. I will never
return. We are
so small.
 
My husband turns
his fevered
face. I put
the medicine
down. Click.
I am 6.
 
The movie rolls on.
Tramping feet,
music blaring
at the end of
the war. I
am frightened
hold my hand
 
The round face
of the woman
upstairs, moving
the faucets, strips
of vegetable
 
slithering down,
her reptile child
will never
return. The telephone
 rings. It’s me.
I’m six.

Eileen Myles, “Snakes” from Skies, published by Black Sparrow Books. Copyright © 2001 by Eileen Myles. Reprinted by permission of Eileen Myles.

Source: Skies (Black Sparrow Books, 2001)

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Poet Eileen Myles

Subjects Living, Youth, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Pets, Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Eileen  Myles

Biography

Eileen Myles was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1949, was educated in Catholic schools, graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Boston in 1971, and moved to New York City in 1974 to be a poet. She gave her first reading at CBGB's, and then gravitated to St. Mark's church where she studied with Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley and Bill Zavatsky. She has published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and fiction including Not . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Pets, Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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