The Woman Whose Skin’s

slick as a snake
running naked through the trees
a kid under each arm
looks back
smiles her gap-toothed smile
ducks behind an elephant ear
never to appear again.

From every corner of the town
women rattle cups
stoke-up stoves
send plumes of smoke racing
like horses their daughters can ride
skin against skin
into the hills
where the warriors wait
dangling lucky rings for them to grab onto.

The woman whose skin’s slick as a snake
slides along the bank of a quickening stream
sniffing out clams, frogs and the nests of salamanders
stopping for a breath when the sun slips behind the horizon
and her appetite’s sated.

Last night she slept with her sisters in her father’s house
tuned her guitar
mended her mother’s gown.
Last night began the waining of the hunter’s moon
someone harvested a lamb
carved a pit from the trunk of the largest tree.
The man will soon return and the door will close behind him.

        must I leave my home
wear a new name
lose my luck
never speak out again

That same night
having rested long enough
the woman whose skin’s slick as a snake
turned slowly in her bed
stroked the kids coiled close beside her
then packed and left in the last of the dark