The Snake Poem
I ran, as I wrote.
I ran like a dead snake.
I saw the hills, luminous and rotting,
producing light as if disturbed.
The rose was chewing the lilac.
Geraniums bit the lilies.
I ran, wearing a necklace of soma and goldenrod,
a creature without feet, I ran
through the blue-eyed grass
and pearly everlasting
all the way to this great view of emptiness.
Cartoon beetles waved their legs at me.
Red would be better, they said.
So I put on a red shirt
and I still don’t feel anything.
A snake lifts its head at the sound of music.
Even a dead snake can dance;
plants produce colors we cannot see.
Terpsichore, love has feet.
I think I hear the sound of love’s feet in the grass.
You’d think something that big would break its own legs.
Girl, I say, I told you
I’m a dead snake.
Terpsichore, you bone closet misanthrope,
pardon the error of a snake in grief
who reaches without hands,
dances without feet.
Zoë Bird lives in her hometown of Minneapolis and directs the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project Minnesota. She co-created and co-hosted the Open Poetry series and Poets Against the War readings in Santa Fe for five and seven years, respectively. She has performed widely in the Southwest and the Twin Cities, and her poems have appeared in art installations and multimedia collaborations with musicians, clay and other visual artists, dancers, and fellow writers. Recent publications include vacpoetry.org, The Royal Breadshow (Axle Contemporary, 2014) and Bringing Gifts, Bringing News (DownStairs Press, 2011). Bird recently completed her first full-length poetry collection, Poultice for a Wooden Leg, and is a member of the Northside Writers Group at Homewood Studios.