"the gator is behind me again. Slick as death yet purposeful..."

Susan recommends


Wise Womens' Web


 Ms. Susan Terris

Susan Terris

Blind-Fish Cave

Somewhere on the transparent mountain:
a cave with a shallow lake inside,
and, at night, I come upon it again and again.

Bamboo poles wait there in darkness, propped,
their safety pin hooks unbaited,
yet I lift them, fish with the empty hooks,

catch spineless albino trout to fry over cool fire.
As I chew and swallow, soft flesh-bones
disintegrating between my teeth,

earthworms tunnel beneath me, moles dig
sightlessly, and moonlight leaks through
the trees. Beyond the cave, a world where

birds fly right-side up, and the sun arcs
behind them in the east. There's a path,
torrid and rock-strewn, with miles to traverse

facing prowl of boar and puma. Will I 
seek danger? Blistered feet or raked back? 
No, I'll hunker in the cave. Call this

selective hibernation: food, shelter, fire, 
exhalation of bat and snake, and echoes
within echoes of a reality too edgy to control.


There's an alligator in a jar
who purples against a purple river
and greens against green rills.
He is growing so fast
sharp teeth score the glass.
It breaks and I, visoring my helmet,
confront him.

Our contest is slow yet earnest;
and we are walled by the cinnabar
of a machine, innards
throbbing like a foundry.
I advance, gripping not sword
but red mouse
with a long tube-like tail.

Angling vertically, I elude the gator,
unsure if gravity will hold me.
The mouse bites his own tail,
and I use him to change direction
as I maze
through narrowing tunnels.
But I'm sluggish, and

the gator is behind me again.
Slick as death yet purposeful,
he creaks his jaw. Now I reach
a dead end. Curbed by walls,
I lift by visor and drop
the mouse. Then wrapping
myself in white,
I pay out all lines of control.