all the neat rows I've planted show a green face to Heaven
and a splintered white one to the airless dark.
Droplet heartbeats couched in fur and heat
fancy themselves tiny suns, and cross my garden to the mamba.
She receives them and they set, as silent as servants.
Each night, the mamba goes home, and each night
I am so alone that my skin suffocates patch by pore
for lack of contact.
As my faculties wane and the sun boasts itself higher,
I have actually spoken to the mamba and discovered her history.
Between killings. Between intoxications.
She storied me her three sisters, each one green and fine--
the tall one, the dark one, and the one whose lover died by dreams.
I remember them now, and the skins they left behind.
How I suffer at night, when the mamba is away--
how absurd the rows seem, without the quick and the dead.
Every twenty minutes I am born again, more infected than before.
Last night, I gave the mamba a name--Apophis.
She is a black mamba, and it is not for her gray body she is so named--
it is for her mouth, so fatal and so perfect.
Tonight I will invite her into my bed, try to turn her
from her homeward ways. One strike will leave me at her mercy,
forever reduced to minutes, but I'll have asked the mamba to love me and she will,
filling me with dendrotoxin that's almost love-like,
or at least,
the version of it that I learned from childhood days in Eden.