Don’t Step on the Snake
by Meg Tuite
Sister says, “You have no eyelids.” Snakes see everything, do not blink.
Breakfast slaps a burnt pancake back at Mom.
Lunch is a basket of silence, the color of closed doors and no father.
Dinner tracks sockets of fear on every face, like a bus station at 3 AM.
Brother shouts at me. “Incoming. Do you read me? Incoming.”
Snakes don’t have external ears, but I am still forced to go to school.
First bell rounds my globe like a belt that welts the being of my island.
Recess is carnivorous and too thick for me to wedge inside.
Last bell is resonant, a stampede certain of itself, and yet I linger between two predators, always wondering if there is an ulterior route.
Dad says there are no snakes in Ireland. I don’t know how he slithers out of that country and into this one? I creep through so many days, unhurried. I know there will be more.
I get bronchitis every year. One lung is all I live with. The missing lung bears the depths of coal-mines, black and hallowed, clenched shut like mom’s heart. Girls at school talk about getting married. Their absurd fantasies slough off me, stale, discarded skin.
I will never offer my face to betrayal. I am a reptile. My skeleton is an elongated thorax of locked vertebrae covered by a thin ocean of flesh, sexless as the thin space that separates my venom from the secretions of those who attempt to swallow me.
Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared in numerous journals. She is the author of two short story collections, Bound By Blue (2013) Sententia Books and Domestic Apparition (2011) San Francisco Bay Press, and three chapbooks, the latest titled, Her Skin is a Costume (2013) Red Bird Chapbooks. She won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award from Artistically Declined Press for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging (2014) written with Heather Fowler and Michelle Reale and is currently working on a mixed genre collection to be published in late 2014. She teaches at the Santa Fe Community College, lives in Santa Fe with her husband and menagerie of pets.
Her blog: http://megtuite.com
July 23, 2014
Photo by: Gessy Alvarez