We begin with an injunction, an order: “Resist / feeding serpents your stories.” Serpents expect the performative, we are warned; they prize shiny illusions over truth. But we are survivors, and we have not survived by accepting limits.
So, sly, we speak aslant. We speak of whales and horses. We seduce would-be censors with “world-tree cuttings [that] root / in rich waters.” Others of us, caught mid-scream, continue screaming. “Half trunk half scale all drowning,” we belong nowhere, we have nothing. Still others of us have too much: too much hunger stoked by “sleeplessness and fear…” Too much loss, too much pain. And, yes, some of us are feeding the serpents—but on our terms. We’ve turned our difference into Instagram influence and our admirers understand when the “body is swollen with fog.”
In the end, despite all injunctions, we the crooked talk straight among ourselves. Perhaps we meet “once weekly in a moon- / less annex of the community health center” or at the bus stop; maybe we commiserate in Discord. Spies cannot understand all we say. Dismayed eavesdroppers turn away. But even in silence, we speak. Listen…
© 2019 Lisa M. Bradley