1. Home
  2. Poetry Magazine
  3. Poems
  4. Snake Oil, Snake Bite by Dilruba Ahmed
Snake Oil, Snake Bite

Related Poem Content Details

They staunched the wound with a stone.
They drew blue venom from his blood
            until there was none.
When his veins ran true his face remained
lifeless and all the mothers of the village
wept and pounded their chests until the sky
             had little choice
but to grant their supplications. God made
             the boy breathe again.

God breathes life into us, it is said,
only once. But this case was an exception.
God drew back in a giant gust and blew life into the boy
and like a stranded fish, he shuddered, oceanless.

It was true: the boy lived.
He lived for a very long time. The toxins
were an oil slick: contaminated, cleaned.
But just as soon as the women
kissed redness back into his cheeks
the boy began to die again.
He continued to die for the rest of   his life.
The dying took place slowly, sweetly.
The dying took a very long time.

Source: Poetry (November 2013)

More from this issue

This poem originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

  • Search every issue of Poetry

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine. Search the whole site

Snake Oil, Snake Bite

Related Poem Content Details

  • Dilruba Ahmed is the author of Dhaka Dust (Graywolf, 2011), winner of the Bakeless Literary Prize for poetry awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her poetry has appeared in Blackbird, Cream City Review, New England Review, New Orleans Review, and Indivisible: Contemporary South Asian American Poetry

    Of her first book, a Hyphen Magazine reviewer observed, “What’s so promising about Dhaka Dust is precisely that Ahmed never evades our contemporary moment, taking on a globalizing, anxiety-stricken world while always focusing on the contradictory ways that her speakers live through them. Over the course of these poems, Ahmed subtly crafts the emotionally complex terrain that captures the sprawl and dislocation that shape our early 21st century psychology.”

    A writer with roots in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Bangladesh, Ahmed earned BPhil and MAT degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She has taught in Chatham University’s Low-Residency MFA program.

  • Poem Categorization

    If you disagree with this poem's categorization make a suggestion.
  • Search every issue of Poetry

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine. Search the whole site

Other Information