I Try to Forgive Your Absence, Facing the Snake in the Kitchen

By on Nov 29, 2015 in Poetry

Small snake on kitchen floor

I mistake it for a night crawler, which recalls my father forcing one into jumpy nine-year-old palms so that I can ruche its long succulence onto a hook. But this one, the color of giblets, spans two checkerboard tiles and looks stunned, as I am: How’d I end up here? A whiplash tongue tastes the air. No Brother Francis, I swallow fear and loathing, seize Tupperware, and then, stifling dry heaves (En garde!) poise  bin over reptile—which thrashes into spitfire life, sidewinding into the living room, all snap and writhe. A montage of past insults replays the Why me? refrain: A bat’s webby crepe sonars over our canopy bed, five baby mice erupt from stove burner coils—how dare the creatures belie the trusty idiom “safe as houses”—each scene increasing the horror, urging murder (weight trap with soup pot, toss corpse in the morning). Outside, in the generous dark, sweaty hands press panic against plastic. Then open. Set the self free.


Laurie Klein's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ascent, Atlanta Review, Barrow Street, The Southern Review, Terrain, and other journals. A winner of the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred, her chapbook, Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh, won the Predator Press award. Klein's debut collection, Where the Sky Opens, A Partial Cosmography, is forthcoming from Cascade Books as part of The Poeima Poetry Series.