Eighth Century, Mayan
You’re supposed to say shoke but I like shock.
Who drew a spiked rope through her
offering tongue to
into the threads of bark paper, coax
so she could froth up
the Vision Snake…
In this particular design
the Snake has two. The lower
disgorges a warrior-god and the upper the ancestral
Two mouths: you’d think,
two opposite positions. You’d think she faced
a breaking choice:
For wisdom she went to a fanged mouth,
So she could answer
a trick question: man or god
how honest they were, the old
Look how she kneels
in tranced adoration, the long spear pointed
at her brow.
From Banana Palace (Copper Canyon, 2016) by Dana Levin. Copyright © 2016 by Dana Levin. Used with the permission of the poet.