BY NANCY MILLER GOMEZ
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.