The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Talking to Snakes by Rebecca Bratten Weiss

This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Talking to Snakes by Rebecca Bratten Weiss, released by Ethel Zine in 2020. 

Talking to Snakes

Talking to snakes means starting
off as still as can be, unmoving,
holding the snake’s orange eyes with
yours, until its flickering tongue
gets Pentecostal on you, until you’ve
felt your body smooth itself out,
stretching like pliable dough, pretzel
dough, stretching and rolling, arms
and legs twining together, everything
vine-like, rope-like, and then when
a phalanx of scales has crept from
your toenails up to your skull, you
are sleek, you are butter, you can get
in through any door, insinuate your
self into bathrooms and greenhouses,
undulate along the water, eat a mouse
whole, and like it. You are coiled in
the hot sun, and so is the snake, and
now you could ask it anything, like
whether that whole business of the
fruit and the garden was true. If it is,
you understand, you’ll have to decide
whether to be angry or not. But it
looks at you with its wise eyes and
you can’t remember what there was
to be angry about. Having to wear
clothes, maybe? But now you don’t.
You’re naked again. You drape your
body, iridescent, over the sunlight.

Later after the man finds you both
he cuts your heads off with a shovel
and drapes you both over the garden
wall. A lesson to someone.

Rebecca Bratten Weiss is a freelance academic and organic grower residing in rural Ohio. Her creative work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Two Hawks Quarterly, Presence, Connecticut River ReviewShooter, New Ohio Review, The Seventh Wave, and Westerly. Her collaborative chapbook Mud Woman, with Joanna Penn Cooper, was published in 2018, and her collection Talking to Snakes by Ethel in summer 2020.


Leave a Reply