Kelly E. Foster

A Lock from Medusa’s Head

    I.           At fifteen I lived
for pools in summer; I traded feet
                         for plastic flippers;
                                      eyes for goggles—

my thoughts swam.
I imagined a 1970 Florida summer
where an old box radio lay
sunning itself on the lanai,
                                      playing long & hard, & back to back
                                                   rock & roll songs or James Taylor,
                                                   “something in the way she moves.”

            I visualized my short, pale body traveling
            down the Amazon river.
                                      Large red ant hills could count for sand,
                                                   but not the type you’d want
                                      to walk on. Bites could turn to wounds
                         —the sun never dimmed.

    II.           July, a scab, swarmed
with heat & pus, thickening in
lackadaisical violet colors;
                         producing a warmth
so sticky days melted
fast like illusions.
            One morning at the
bottom of the pool a water moccasin,
alluring enough to rest on Medusa’s head,
snoozed, or so it seemed.
                         What do snakes dream of?
            She lay at the five-foot mark.
                         Any splash would startle her.
                                                              Later, my grandma called
                                                   animal control.

The officer caught the snake’s neck,
                         & dragged her out, wet & wild.
                                      Her face seemed expressive
                                      of the beginning. She knew about the apple;
                                      all the rumors & misconceptions.
                         I told her sorry.
Her hazel eyes met mine,
her forked, pink tongue flapping
just once before she was placed
                         in a white plastic bucket,
            with a lid snapping shut
            & her inside it—
        waiting for
     her next

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