Unwinding the Snake (after Linda Gregg)
Old moon, you piss me off,
smiling so in your flimsy gray
sheets, looking so content.
The snake wraps itself around
my wrist, squeezing. Its eyes
say nothing to me. Nothing,
as if I were a temple devoid of
laughter, the cliff at dawn’s
edge, or a kangaroo rat skittering
under mesquite. I unwind the
snake, place it in the grass,
look up. You still piss me off.
Without you I am the roofless house
awaiting a thunderstorm, a water
strider in a drying creek, that boulder
poised at the canyon’s rim before
the earth shivers. I am the pan without
fire, a spoke missing its wheel, the
skydiver’s nightmare, a black hole’s
belly regurgitating light. I hike and
sweat, and every second leans slowly
against the next, tiny glaciers pushing
minutes behind, pulverizing the long
incremental days into fine gravel.
Where are you, I ask. What is this
fever, this surging tune I cannot hum?
Robert Okaji is a displaced Texan seeking work in Indiana. He no longer owns a bookstore, is a U.S. Navy veteran, and once won a goat-catching contest. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Book of Matches, Vox Populi, North Dakota Quarterly, Boston Review, Tistelblomma, Crannóg and elsewhere.