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It was the winter the snake went missing.
We searched through laundry hampers,
peered into toilets, stepped everywhere
carefully. No one slept well.

On the eve of the eighth day,
my mother turned on the garbage disposal
and heard the gargle of blades
grinding through flesh. After,

she fished out the mangled,
still-writhing animal with an oven mitt
and laid it down outside on a bed
of snow-capped compost. All that year

I dreamt of knives sleeping beneath me.
Mornings, I woke to the memory
of the beautiful black coils,
the diamond-braided skin slashed open.

And because I was a child
plagued by imagination, I waited
for them to rise up
from the drain, silent as shadows,

the kitchen brimming with generations
of snakes draped over the chairs
and light fixtures, an iridescent river
of lacerated bodies slithering out of the sink,

while the largest serpent slipped off,
tasting the air with his tongue,
and sidewinding down the hall
in search of my mother.



Nancy Miller Gomez grew up in Kansas, but currently lives in the hills overlooking the ocean in Santa Cruz, California. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2021, Best New Poets 2021, New Ohio Review, Shenandoah, River Styx, The Rumpus, Rattle, Massachusetts Review, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Punishment, was published in 2018 as part of the Rattle chapbook series. She has worked as an attorney, a TV producer and co-founded an organization that provides poetry workshops to incarcerated men and women. More at

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