By Valerie L. Egar
Published in The Cape Rock as “The Snake Merchant’s Daughter”
In a house filled with sorrow,
a mother who mirrored the moon’s cycles,
a father whose homecoming
brought gifts or beatings or both,
the snakes had a steadiness I admired.
I fed them rats, mice, young birds,
and found their bite no worse
than the words I heard from my bed.
Every fall, cooled by winds that frosted
the plums, they grew docile,
their scales golden in a dying sun.
I tucked each into a winter nest
of dried dung, peat and leaves,
and grieved their sleeping in my dreams.