Today's poem is by Casey Thayer

Love Poem with Snake Handler & Church of God with Signs Following

Not blood, the watery red handprint
that drips off the counter's lip
is left from beets she peels
then drops in a pot to boil. I think
slaughter, root fruit slick as the eyes
of a cow, her white apron now
plum, some calligraphic line I can't
make out. Loose with the blade even
in peeling, she intimidates, the haft
in hand, her done-up lacquered nails.
This woman is no stranger to pain.
Scales or a line of stars lace up
her forearm the preacher split open
to ease the puff from her first bite or
the time she thought God was created
in the image of her need. Under the bed,
the basket of snakes—not in praise
of danger but to keep her close
to the flame or for trading on Sundays.
Outside the church, the sign: IN GOD
—a letter lost to the tall grass.
Over the sink, her hands, stained
with beet juice, never wash clean,
& I ghost when she braids her nails
in my hair, for a small mistake or
lapse in the Lord's grace could kill us.
Like the fatal many-banded krait
that mimics the nonvenomous.
No loreal scale, fleck as small
as a snowflake below the skin
of the reptile's eye, we'll die.
Still, I'll risk disaster to have her.
I'll sleep above that cradle of snakes,
the hiss of static, for the chance
to know a world greater than myself.
For her final trick she puts the beasts
to bed. Facing down the framed Mary,
the cross slipped into the sideboard,
she unfolds her stained hands,
the deep pink of an inside cheek, a pair
of jaws cranked open & set to strike.

Copyright © 2015 Casey Thayer All rights reserved
from Self-Portrait with Spurs and Sulfur
University of New Mexico Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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