Author: Teresa Middleton

Rain murmurs against panels of curved
glass, sliding like mercury, glistening
in slow-motion. Blades of a ceiling fan swerve
and hum overhead as you read, I listen,
in wicker lounge chairs. Ankles crossed, knees
splayed to hold Bulfinch’s myths, you lean
forward, turning the pages, a modern Persephone
in braces and polka dots. On the verge of thirteen,
blooming among orchids, begonias, passion vine,
your voice echoes, saturating space with sound.
I close my eyes. Dreams and duties intertwine,
time erodes, and language, stolen underground
by bandits, germinates in soft soil. Words unfold
like petals between us, ruby red, tinged with gold.

A snake charmer kisses the head of a hooded cobra
at the Serpent Goddess Convention. Kundalini and
Manasa hiss with approval.

Three Gorgons in a Volkswagen Beetle
honk at a man in a pick-up. They roll down windows
and crank up the bass until he turns his head to look.

In Mackinaw City, Sophia works the cash register
at Your Mother’s Bones. Gaia arranges rocks
on shelves, polishes the man-eating clam.

While her husband snores on the couch, Lilith packs
her bags. She leaves her ring on the bed, dishes
in the sink, then kisses Paradise, Arkansas, goodbye.

I love to play Monopoly with Kwan-Yin. She
refuses to quit until I become enlightened,
or until she can put a house on Park Place.

Kali dances under a street lamp clutching a severed head
and a sword. Neighbors watch from locked windows.
They hide behind curtains and wait for the cops.

Demeter drills a hole in the ice, tempts walleye
with golden shiners. She sips cocoa, watches the flag
on the tip-up, and counts the days until spring.