Bio Note: I am a writer and retired college educator living and writing in Southern California. The author of four published books of poetry and editor of three anthologies, I also curate two poetry reading series, including the monthly Verse Virtual reading. You can listen to those (links on the Verse Virtual website "EVENTS" page) and attend the next month's reading on Zoom. Looking forward to seeing you!
Last summer I was walking up a trail and caught a rattlesnake stretched out full length across the path not far ahead, sunning her body in a shaft of light, thick branch fallen from the scruffy eucalyptus. Clearly, she was as glad as I to be there, diamond-shaped head slightly raised, to feel the warm sun spread to the rattle at her other end. I stood a long time, watching the patterned light shifting on her scales, till she finally disappeared into the brush.
Without its familiar guardian, the night sky vibrates, a place of potential, winter field where seeds wait in the dark, growing blindly toward a phantom light. The moon too, hardly visible, curled as a comma in its velvet-lined box of sky, wavers, a hint of brightness, gestating fetus growing a bit each day, ghost of the brazen body that only days before peered into all the windows at once, clawed at the shades with its sharp shafts of light, now locked away in the sky’s dark furrows, to be reborn each month from the same seed.
We always knew when it was coming by the smell of ozone, my father’s unfocused stare, as if it were a storm that made us run to close the windows. I’d rush to the cellar with a book, a flashlight, and a snack, plan to stay for hours. If I were quick enough, I’d slip out the door. The neighbors watched us like a weekly drama on TV, my father cursing, flailing his belt, my mother weeping, I, just barely out in front, feeling the sting of the strap on the insides of my knees. Seldom could we tell what dropped match had set the flame. But I’d always recognize the blue vein, bulging like a river on a map, and run.
©2022 Robbi Nester
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL