snake

“Freyja, or How I Became the Snake That Even in the Garden Eats Itself,” “Concerning Paradise,” and “Aubade with Death & Good Fortune”

Issue 22 by Benjamin Bartu

Freyja, or How I Became the Snake that Even in the Garden Eats Itself

i tried something awful

to impress

at the edge

of a koi pond

& slipped.

an olive film

couldn’t know

i loved her. in years i found

if i hit my palm against my jaw hard & fast

under running water it created

a band of fuzzy light

& done again

the ringing was renewal. we walked the path

intact once more.

attended flinders rose,

hollyhock, first white petaled

caper bloom. then every slap

a fewer flower. goodbye waterlily,

nameless blossom, the pool of prized fish

one broth transfusing. a wish.

Concerning Paradise

your breath

my tired hands.

You know

I could lie here forever. Until

I realize

what a long night that is. Better

permissioning time

its natural course. Permission is better

for the body.

All considered. I want

to ferry you to morning. These fingers

entwined, these voices

brief.

Parsimony of the sacred things. How

I sank where the waters rejected Jesus, how

you well up

inside the holy places.

How I couch my collapsible

inside yours, murmuring

Mm, Mm, and again

and then the monocracy of sleep.

Aubade with Death & Good Fortune

Here. Half the chubby little bird

pecking at the tree limbs. Half a window

seat, half the sunrays fastened.

Half a stomping ground. The tic-tac-

toe of worm dens. The riven turf

above them. A single yellow-petal

sprouting leafless from the mud. Today’s

representation of death is mother’s

mother. In her honor I volunteer my hair

to the hair gods. I equivocate my word

with prayer. Call it secular white man prayer.

In the time taken to write this

the little bird has doubled over into a tuft of wheat-

grass. I have begun subscribing to transfiguration.

It’s one of those free trial things.

Mine’s one of those lives where you get free

trial things. The vitriol alleviated without consequence

an hour after the news arrived. A sign of mild

improvement. Mine’s the kind of life where death

can be used to track improvement. I will

probably succumb to age as well. Every year

the ligaments blanching, the blood creamier. Grand-

mother has passed on. The worms tunnel underground,

the bird remains transformed. A synapse

runs the grass blades. She could still become

those dappled stories called elm seed bugs.

They find a home in spring. They eat elm seeds,

linden. I would be remiss if I did not express.

I knew I’d lose to love. Leaves had fallen

in my weeping, but so scattered. And so many.

About the Author

Benjamin Bartu

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Benjamin Bartu is a writer and multi-citizen. He graduated from Linfield College with a BA in Political Science and Creative Writing. His work has been featured in The Mekong Review and The Albion Review, among others.