To Assist a Garter Snake in Shedding Her Skin
soak her in tepid water,
place her in damp moss for one-half hour.
humans shed skin cells too,
in tiny pieces.
before i met you, i collected skins
of garter snakes, the feathers of birds.
i kept them in a small wooden box
with the gold braid my mother cut
from the nape of my neck.
what does the garter snake lose
in shedding her skin? (pieces of herself)
i needed more than a mattress of moss.
one morning you showed me how to dance,
palm to palm in zig zags across the carpet.
i thought about bald eagles in courtship-
how they grab each other’s talons and tumble-
surely, they lose a feather or two.
hair is easy going: you cut your long curls,
i save a lock in a wooden box-
nobody really notices how humans shed skin
but last night, i lost my last skin cell
somewhere in a dark corner of the bar
while your fingers were in my hair,
i couldn’t save it.
after one-half hour,
the snake will shed her skin.
watch her relish her bare intimacy.