The snake always slips into the bushes when I start down the path.
The snake is just the tail end of what’s happening.
The snake doesn’t look back.
The snake is not an animal I identify with.
I mean, it’s a garden-variety queen snake but I’d still lop off its head with a machete.
Isn’t it expected that one thing will chase another?
Isn’t it normal to want your space?

About this snake, it’s not the kind that holds its tail in its mouth.
About this machete, I do not own one.
About this path, I chose it.
It’s narrow.

About this metaphor, it stretches out like a tightrope.
And these lines force one foot in front of the other.
And these steps are the ones I have to take.

About the snake, I must circle back.

About the time I left the door open.
About the zero surprise I felt when our eyes locked.

As if what I needed was a mirror.
As though I would always lead her in & back her into a corner.

As soon as I extend my hands, she coils into her self.
As soon as I take another step, she slashes the cord.

From Relinquenda: Poems by Alexandra Lytton Regalado. Copyright © 2022 by Alexandra Lytton Regalado. Used with permission from Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts.