Nestled deep in the clutter of dad’s dimly lit garage,
past the dartboard and the Budweiser poster,
above the lucky rabbit foot and below his black cowboy hat,
the snake hid in the aquarium.
I was seven when dad let me watch him feed the snake.
When dad dropped the frantic mouse,
the snake lowered its head reverently,
an alien wetly opening a pink, glowing mouth.
The snake’s discarded skin was covered in sand,
last night’s crumpled gown. In its barren eyes,
I searched for a glimmer of cruelty or guilt,
but I’d read that snakes can hardly see.
Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place.
Its soul must have been in the dark corners
of its black, forked tongue,
sewn in skin
that glistened with fiery beams
under the vanishing light of a single lightbulb.
The mouse – I almost forget.
The silent air
kept the secret of death,
whether it mattered at all,
Reflected in the dark glass
are four lonely captives,
blind to nature’s love for devouring whole,
her genius for letting go.
By Yvette Saenz
Yvette Saenz is a writer from Alice, Texas. Currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, she received a Del Deo Foundation Artist Grant in 2020 and Honorable Mention for the 2023 Academy of American Poets University Prize at the University of Arizona. She received a BA in Social Studies from Harvard University.