I walked into the dark forest,
my stomach gurgling fear.
Pushing it down into my gut
I entered a grove of mangoes
devoid of fruit and intensely tangled,
like the ribbons of my life.
I saw there a green tree snake
coiled upon a gnarled branch,
watching me as carefully as I did it,
a flickering tongue eerily matching
the flickering of my heart.
Startled then by a strange desire
to feel his venomous bite,
I stepped closer
and reached an unsteady hand
toward the inevitable.
The strike was sudden
and true to its mark,
though I saw it all in slow motion;
the beady black eyes locked as the head pulled back,
and with the mouth, full of cotton and death,
opened to two curved fangs.
The lightning extension of his slender body
racing toward the fattest curve of my extended arm.
Just before the bite,
I saw all the stale moments of my life
stretched before me;
the childhood full of loneliness and broken toys;
the awkward attempts to befriend others,
met with laughter and derision;
a teen locked within the pain and uncertainty
of forced loneliness;
the young man twisting in the wind,
fearful and drunk after lost hours
searching for love that would never be there.
It stung for a moment,
then slowly a fire spread upward
from my elbow to my shoulder.
The painful memories replaced by a certain knowledge
That peace would soon cocoon me
in the darkness that I yearned for.
I felt sleepy and content in knowing
that this green viper was the closest thing
I would ever know of true love.
He bit to release me.
I sat upon a mossy log,
my breathing, moments before racing,
now became labored and shallow.
The pain brought with it a strange sensation of giddiness,
and as I watched the darkness
creep up through my surrendered body,
I smiled one last time.
And just bef….jus…as…I…