Sunday, October 23, 2011

Snake Skin

This poem first appeared in the Limestone Dust Poetry Festival Anthology, and was later anthologied in the Best of the Austin Poetry Festival Anthology.

Oddly, it begins
in the fingertips, the compulsion
to fit thousands of tiny pieces
into jigsaw puzzles, to place
jacks on queens, to masturbate
everything toward something.
When the fingers are raw
it moves up the arms like a year-long
heart attack and only when it reaches
the valves do you recognize it
and weep. The molting

continues toward genital
experiment, organic stupidity,
coitus more painful than
guilt, stripping layer by layer,
a scalpel that peels to the
amoral bone. And at last,

the feet move, step from the old
skin, naked on glass, tread
one step. And the spine straightens
and the arms swing and the hands
tingle and the head throws back
and hopes

maybe the old you
will become just a memory
handbag, a tote that with luck
will be left to the Salvation Army
in a couple of years.

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