On Becoming a Snake
I remember the tank and the heat lamp,
the stripped branch and the stones.
I am riding a black cat through the night.
My skin is almost bloody with scales
and turning toward scale. Whatever
of the earth I give, I am the whole
shiver of exoskeleton and scalp.
The dream of arms has left us.
Everything quakes and we writhe.
Upwards upwards, all movement
proceeds from the eye.
I miss my rounded tongue most.
Never the ache of thigh, never
the dry winter pressing, but the clack
in the back of the cheek,
the glottal and the stop—oh,
the sorrow of only this this this
You might kill me with a brick.
Bio: Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky, plays an active role in the activites of her local NOW chapter, and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women. https://www.facebook.