the shuffle of a circled wind,
dance in a past touched   not touched
youth was a sleeping snake,
head tucked under my body
I sought warmth where I could
but was born in a home resting
along a knife’s blade –
this family – 

there is darkness   always darkness
     so much we wish for lightning
blindness of light
like a photo taken late at night
the outline of us an unreachable thing
until the spark reveals some truth
I walked through a library once
waiting for a book to call me
when a man from the zoo brought a yellow snake
with him, offering her 
to me
I could not
her skin touching mine
would mesh
I thought   he turned away
to present her to another
and the snake’s tail brushed my arm.
Like a spring, coldness rolled through me.
I carry my father within me – a cup near overflowing,
liquid pushed into a curve at the lip.
I have learned to balance this surface tension.
There is no other choice.
How else to always have a response
when his conversations wander.
He has called my mother again,
five or six times,
leaves a message about needing a psychiatrist,
and asks that I please call him.
I know him better than most,
know how to keep him from tipping over,
his mind a nest of shed snake skin
and dry branches
his life a flood of rains
promising so much damage. 
If I can manage to stay warm
to keep soft, pliable
after all of this
nothing can undo me
even this inherited skin
radiates like summer sun,
iron-rich and gooey,
impossible brightness
striking away
at the darkness.
Jo Reyes Boitel is a poet, playwright, essayist, arts activist, rabid music listener, researcher, percussionist, and Texas transplant by way of Minnesota, Florida, Mexico, and Cuba.

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