Today's poem is by Eric Nelson

The Reptile House

A mid-winter, midnight tour, we walked
through the humid, cave dark room, our only light
red-filtered lamps to best observe but not

disturb the lidless eyes, the dead-white
bellies that rose like vapor on the glass
until they stood a moment upright

then fell gracelessly into the fake grass
writhing and tonguing and rising once more.
It seemed we shouldn't be there, a trespass—

like spying through the crack of a door
someone rising dripping from a bath, or one
struck down by grief sobbing on the floor.

At last we reached the end where we'd begun.
Outside, in the icy, starlit night we couldn't see
but sensed, above the clouds rising from our lungs,

something looming, hidden in the trees—
dark shapes with spear-shaped tails and wings,
peacocks larger than men watching us freeze.

Copyright © 2004 Eric Nelson All rights reserved
from Terrestrials
Texas Review Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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