as if the winter’s flame under the faucet
grew. That single spot lit to keep the pipes
from freezing when the power was out,
a candle waxed onto the drain, swells
and consumes everything.
The ceiling fan spins a burned flower
through air thick and still, like sluggish creeks.
It might build to afternoon clouds that coax
the sky to rain. On the living room floor
under spinning blades, I forget anything
but such a chance.
After sleep, I walk out, barefoot into
the yard’s erratic cut of grass. I step
on the hose my mother uses to pull
water from the well to wash our clothes.
It slides away, across my arch. Green snake,
you’d better run.
You have a weedy skeleton, and my grandmother
has already shown she will hack all snakes apart
with the garden hoe. My father argued
she should leave them alone, but she grew up
in other days, of keeping a stick of wood
by the back door
to push the snakes away, of children seen
not heard, of rods not spared. Sometimes
we find shed snake skins. They have crawled out,
after a thoughtful spell, their new scales
so bright across their length, healing, surging
as if heaving heat.
I won’t tell them you were here for a week
at least. For this, work for me new feet
of scales and an underside that measures
waves through earth, of fault lines, footsteps,
the whirring, sharpened blades that keep