Annalynn Hammond


Iíd always end up in a smoky apartment
with a cat straight out of an Egyptian tomb,
lounging on a beanbag chair breathing
like an accordion, curls of incense
swirling from holes in its throat.

There was always an aquarium glowing
in the corner, holding the hot breath
of Mexico. Always a Black King snake
on my arm, smooth and dark
as polished mica. And still the cat
with pools of magma for eyes.

Feline and reptilian melded in the black
light -- there were no humans anymore.
No air either, but I had learned to breathe
the cobwebs off the catís tongue.
And I was learning from the snake
how to touch skin to skin and mold
new bodies, how to rub ashes
from my cigarette into my palm
and trace the serpentine whorls
into the dust of new countries.

I was learning time doesnít pass,
but only circles like oil behind
my eyes. Learning I had no shell,
that my chest flapped like sheets
of muslin over an open window.

And, as familiar objects began
emerging like soldiers from the walls,
the snake and the cat were teaching me
there is an animal that can slide
on its belly, prowl, pull you into its eyes
completely, and then disappear.

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Publications: Canwehaveourballback?, Wicked Alice, Unlikely Stories, Eclectica, Snakeskin, Branches Quarterly, PoetryRepairShop, Poems Niederngasse, Snow Monkey

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