sestina for the snake in a man-made lake

scaled head just above
the surface shattered when shot
by the bb gun a boy was teaching me not
to use but to love. see? when he fired,
i cried. shocked, concentric blood
on water gellish, dingy, ringing.

shadow under a flipped boat, ringing
with his laughter, hard shell above
us, i laughed, too. the metal blood
smell of that boat stays like a snapshot,
something visible, real, 3-d, fired
from inside, a violence not

easy to stop, to clock, to get. not
bullet, not venomous light, not ringing
leaves glimpsed from under a fired
edge of rust. more like the boy above
me, his skin hot, closed eyes lovely, shot
through: lashes, freckles, veins, blood

running under his lids and mine, blood
keeping us alive, combined we cannot
be cold-scaled, frail, must give this a shot:
to see forever, hear time bringing
forth anything other than being above
fear, young. the bristling world fired

iridescence up for us, fired
off a memory the color of his blood
inside him, submerged, safe, blue, not
purple on the water. beauty ringing
in the distance shot

in the dark, guess, can a trick shot
hold us? he’s gone now, fired
past this invisible, ringing
future, where snake blood
stays on the lake, scales explode, not
sunk but sprayed into a halo above

the scene where I was (am) hidden, boat, blood
present tense a taste, glint, skin of a snake not
dead yet, nor alive, all over, under and above.


First published by Jetfuel Review