Eileen Myles

1949 - / Cambridge / Massachusetts

Snakes

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.
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