A snake in the first days of springtime came
Riding the hot blacktop before my feet,
She came pulling her wagon-body slow,
Her carriage bearing the load of herself
And gravel beneath like many wheeled logs
Carting her and baking her sand belly.
I stooped to my knees, my nose over her
To watch the sun reflecting in her scales,
And saw that she was shedding for April,
A plastic coat of winter down her neck
Rolled like unbuttoned cuffs up the elbows.
She moved as one fluid pulse, as one wave
Crawling up the shore, and just as quickly
Drawing back and then falling in again,
Her muscles, like waves, breaking inside her.
And as she went her old wet flesh peeled back
And there was her other self, slick and black.
I watched the train of loose skin slide over
That new flesh, tugging at the tenderness,
The soft, blanket warmth of flesh upon flesh,
And the washed, cold breath of the wind that came
As a tonic, engorging her white eyes.
Her body gone, she was naked and fresh,
Climbing weakly to safety, the old dress
Thrown and curling in the heat behind her.
She quickened her pace over my fingers,
Wary of new touch but recalling how
Very much like old touch it seems to be.
And the plated gel of her flesh to me
Was memories of loves I did not know.
Where shall my dress one day be thrown, and when?
And who should strip me naked before them
That I may be new, for him and myself?
Must I grow old before I feel young again?
Many times I’ve played the mistress dreaming
Childlike fantasies of being older
When I looked back on destiny seeming
To miss myself, a lover to many men.
It will be like this garter coming out
The tunnel of herself after winter,
Always new yet herself always unchanged.
How damp her eyes, yet not having cried,
How easy she, wriggling, leaves herself behind.