The Snake’s Ghost

By | 1 March 2017

after Rebecca Horn

On a full moon
bring the snake to water
with one hand
support its head
Elevate the tail
to the height
of your shoulder
be rewarded
as the trunks
of trees dance in mirrored
ripples of light
borrowed from the pool’s
bright surface
touched by the two-
pronged tongue

Five times in as many weeks
I have been told
a story of a small girl
in India
fetching a saucer of milk
for an unseen pet
in her room
night after night
until finally the reveal
Her parents’ eyes widening
as a King Cobra
unspooled its dark
from under a cupboard
Hunching itself low over
upturned hands

Based upon the painting, Cinéma Vérité (The Snake’s Ghost), by Rebecca Horn, originally shown Sean Kelly Gallery, New York


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