Snakes for the Living

Her mother’s sickness grew on her like a thick pelt,
though the thought of losing her felt like being flayed,
peeled, pinned for examination

Sorry your mom bloodied the sheets Easter morning

Sorry your mom can’t touch you without crying

Now, daughter feline and wandering
knuckle bumps on windows
knuckles filling a blossomed mouth

Mother’s brain lurking beneath smooth rocks
. . . . . oily ribbons from black tree limbs
. . . . . . . . . . banded tails and liquid bodies
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . death at the river bottom, spring-loaded
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . spade-headed

Forked tongue promises and Sunday
broken plates, the warrior of youth

Death in waves, a floral perfume
ignoring the violence of a girl’s
broken heart

***

Gina Stratos is a writer living in northern Nevada. She enjoys collecting words, sipping buttery Chardonnay, and correcting other people’s grammar. Her work can be read in The Meadow, Door Is a Jar, Rabid Oak, and Dark River Review.