Updated: Sep 4
Can you hear it? A harsh whisper yanks me out of the dark cocoon.
Your green eyes stare into mine. A chill mist wraps your face like a chiffon scarf,
and I scent cave damp and peat. Look there! In the thorn bush, under the fairy tree.
The tip of your index finger glows; you crook it. Pebbles rasp underfoot and sparse,
green grass dampens my hem. It’s cold. Europe cold. There. Look. A rattlesnake is coiled
on black bark detritus. It rattles weakly. It’s freezing to death. We must transport it.
Your hand reaches inside your abdomen and you extract an otter skin bag. Put it in this.
My hand trembles, but I do as you say. Inside, the snake rattles occasionally,
but it’s more of a sigh. Next, we’re in the desert in the Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico.
I don’t know. It’s hot, very hot. So hot the earth has cracked in two. Release it
in that gully. I open the bag and pour the snake onto the iron-red earth like it is oil
and aloe. I hear a fair faint hiss sizzle, and it disappears into the rock.
Like you, it got lost. It didn’t belong in that place. It will be fine when the rain comes.
You graze my left cheek with your fingertips, and you’re gone. With a snap click,
I awake to that loneliness of remembering you’re gone.